Bay Area-bred singer-songwriter Logan Ledger released his debut self-titled album in April. Produced by 13-time Grammy winner T Bone Burnett, the Nashville-based artist’s songs match his moody noir lyricism with a darkly toned take on country music. This album quickly became a favorite of the year thus far for DittyTV Senior Editor Tim W. Jackson, so he decided to learn more about this artist in a 5 Questions segment. Also, catch the DittyTV Debut of the new Logan Ledger video for “(I’m Gonna Get Over This) Some Day” Wednesday night, May 6, at 11/10c on The Curve.
1) Having grown up in Alabama, country and Americana music seems sort of natural to me. But I always wonder how people like yourself, who grew up in the Bay Area, got interested in such music. What kinds of music did you listen to growing up, and who were a few of your early influences?
I definitely was a bit of an outlier among my peers. I got into folk music early through my guitar teacher. He was a big influence on my musical tastes during those childhood years. I was especially fascinated by Doc Watson and Mississippi John Hurt. Then I got into Earl Scruggs-style banjo and became super dedicated to bluegrass for a long time. That was my pathway into playing music.
2) Speaking of Alabama, while the rest of the Ditty crew is in Memphis, I’m based just across the river from John Paul White in the Shoals Area. So I was wondering how the co-write came about between you and John on the song “Tell Me a Lie” from your new album?
That’s killer, I’m a big fan of the Shoals. And I love John Paul White. John and I basically got set up on a blind date by T Bone Burnett. He thought we might write a good song together. John came in with the basic idea for the song and the title and I think we finished it in a couple hours. Afterward, John generously asked me to go on tour with him and open some shows. I hardly had a following at all at the time. John is that kind of guy, though. Just a really great dude. And obviously an insane singer. I started singing “Tell Me a Lie” while I was on that tour and worked out the vocal delivery on the fly in the live setting. That’s where the song really came together for me with all its little nuances.
Check out “Tell Me a Lie” here.
3) And speaking of that new album, you just released your self-titled debut album in April, and I have to say that it’s fantastic. What can you tell us about working with legendary producer T Bone Burnett and recording this project at House of Blues Studios in Nashville?
Thanks so much! Working with T Bone has been a surreal dream. I first met him in 2016 after a demo of mine got passed his way. I got a call out of the blue that T Bone Burnett wanted to meet me. Just totally crazy. Couldn’t have seen that one coming. From the very beginning, T Bone really helped shepherd this project and turn it into what it is, but he always let me take the lead as the artist. He was the total opposite of a micromanaging overproducer. He was engaged on a more fundamental, philosophical level. We spent many many hours together before we ever went into the studio.
In the recording setting he’s really a master vibe setter. He played on most of the tracks and often the whole basis of the song was built around his guitar part. This was definitely the case on “Skip a Rope,” “(I’m Gonna Get Over This) Some Day,” and also on the version of “Oh, Sister” I did with Courtney Marie Andrews for my EP. T Bone also has some of the greatest musicians in the world working on his team. I was extremely fortunate to work with Dennis Crouch, Russ Pahl, Jay Bellerose, Keefus Ciancia and Marc Ribot. Dennis and Russ have sorta become my Nashville dads. I definitely think of them like family. They really took me under their wing these past few years. I was lucky that I had a chance to work with all of the musicians on the album before we started recording. I met Jay, Marc, and Keefus when I played in T Bone’s band at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival (in 2016 and 2017). By the time we actually made the record, everything felt totally natural. I had already formed relationships with everybody. It was easy to just focus on the songs themselves.
4) I think I was more struck in first hearing your voice than any artist since maybe Sturgill Simpson back around 2013-14. In fact, I think every time I listen to your album I decide on a different favorite song. (As of this minute, it’s “Nobody Knows.”) Obviously, you have a lot of natural vocal talent, but how did you develop your country crooner style?
That’s very kind of you to say! And I’m so glad you dig the album. You know, honestly, I think my basic vocal character has been about the same since I was a teenager. I’ve been singing since I was a small child. My grandmother introduced me to Elvis, and that was a major early influence. Maybe the biggest. I’ve certainly studied a lot of different singers over the years. I have the propensity to get pretty deep into the minutiae of singing. Borderline obsessive. I’ve adapted different stylistic traits from my favorite singers here and there, but I’ve tried to transform them through the prism of my own voice. Much of that is automatic and unconscious. I do think there was a point in my early twenties where I realized I needed to take a step back and focus on communicating the message or the feeling of the song. I think the technical aspects of singing need to serve the basic goal of that communication. Or else it’s just beautiful noise. That’s mainly what I try to focus on nowadays, but it took a bit of experience to get there. That being said, I wouldn’t be the singer that I am today without those countless hours of study I put in as a child.
5) And finally, when you were making this album in Nashville several months ago, you probably didn’t count on releasing it during a global pandemic. So what has it been like releasing the album without touring to support it, and what are you doing to stay connected with fans?
It’s definitely a weird one. I would love nothing more than to be out on the road right now playing these songs. This new virtual world of concert streaming is definitely no substitute for a live show, but it has been a really good way to stay connected with people. So I’ve done a few of those, and there’ll be more to come. I seriously appreciate all the people that have tuned in. I’ve also done a couple guest DJ spots for different folks—Gimme Country and Sirius XM Outlaw Country. I love doing those programs. I get to channel my neediness into something useful. I’m also very lucky to be able to do interviews like this one! It’s folks like you and your team at Ditty that are helping us keep afloat right now. Thank you so much.
Thank you, Logan, and we hope everyone takes a look at the video for (“I’m Gonna Get Over This) Some Day” here.