Every once in a while you need a reminder that things aren’t as dire as they appear to be. That the world outside isn’t actually crumbling and burning, with a newer, darker civilization waiting to rise from the ashes. Listening to the new single from Fort Wayne–based musician Jonah Leatherman I’m convinced the sun will rise again. Or at the very least rock and roll is still alive and well in the heartland.
I first heard of Jonah over the fall of 2020 when I talked about the band Bonsai. Leatherman is the drummer in that Fort Wayne four-piece, and from the sound of his first solo single he’s been a front man all along waiting for his chance to shine.
With “Couldn’t Find Any Reason”, Leatherman put together a tight four-piece band of his own which includes Leatherman on vocals and guitars, guitarist and vocalist McKenna Parks(also of Bonsai), bassist Lance Roberts, drummer John Foxworthy. The four headed into Jason Davis’ Off The Cuff Sound and recorded direct to tape, taking a minimalist approach to the recording process.
On the recording process, Leatherman had this to say, “I find a lot of value in intentional limitation. We record to tape in an analog studio and we use real instruments, capture real sounds, and try to really live in the song and create something that feels authentic. Creating in alignment with that process, allows us to find beauty even in the imperfections that can arise in a studio where you can’t autotune or pocket things.”
The results of these limitations and close band vibes is a song that feels alive. It takes me back to listening to 80s pop radio when you could hear Springsteen, Petty, The Hooters, and Bryan Adams in the same block of tracks as Modern English, Depeche Mode, Madonna, and Michael Jackson. There was no station model that needed to be followed. If it was good and people were buying it and requesting it then you heard it on your local station.
Of course, “Couldn’t Find Any Reason” falls into that first batch of artists; jangly guitars, powerful rhythm section, catchy-as-hell refrains, and Leatherman’s distinct vocals that remind me why I miss Tom Petty so damn much. It’s an open road pop rock kick in the gut that begs you to turn up the volume and to take the long way home.
Given that we’re only a week into 2021 and we’re already hearing some amazing original music, I’d say that dark civilization might be held up for a bit. At least until February.
Jonah Leatherman’s “Couldn’t Find Any Reason” is out now. Check out the video below, then hit up Jonah’s Bandcamp page and download the song. It’s also available on all streaming platforms.