Love doesn’t just leave scars, it takes hostages. The demons, heartache and pain don’t simply become a part of us we eventually forget about until asked, they make demands. If we could grow fibrous tissue to protect the wounds, we’d all be better off, but each sudden move leaves us exposed again and make us question every decision.

Leeroy Stagger is better known for the rock half of the roots/rock equation, and Radiant Land certainly plays to his strengths as Stagger and his band open the throttle with road trip ready rockers, gritty odes to the Prairies and scathing political statements, but it’s the softer, personal reflections that hit with the most impact this time around.

When Stagger sings over the plucky stand up bass and banjo on “Travelling Over Water”, acoustic and humming organ on “For The Love Of You” or opens up on the touching “Maria”, you feel a connection bigger than open roads and back porch singalongs. Stagger gives the listener an honest look inside, a glimpses of the darkest moments and stormiest seas.

Sonically, Radiant Land feels more spontaneous than previous Stagger releases. Backing vocals and textures are added, but never sound overproduced or over thought. Radiant Land sounds beautiful but still sounds remarkably minimal at times. Stagger, a surprisingly unheralded songwriter in his own country (he’s tapped to play an opening set at The Carleton here!), continues to expand on his sound and without sacrificing his impressive consistency. For a man so prolific, there are precious few swings and misses in his catalog.

Radiant Land is heartfelt collection of songs, and all things being equal, it should lead to bigger things for the Alberta resident. I’ve said that for years, to little or no avail, but here’s hoping.

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MP3:: Leeroy Stagger - Dirty Windshields