Fort Wayne’s Jonah Leatherman makes music that sounds timeless, jangly indie rock that’s rooted in the tradition of big, classic rock n’ roll. Think ’80s Springsteen, Petty, and The Hooters with more current bands like the War On Drugs and Kurt Vile thrown in for good measure. Those are the ingredients, anyway. Leatherman puts them all together for something decidedly his own.
After a couple singles over 2021, Leatherman released his nine-song self-titled debut this year. Leatherman makes good on the promise of those initial singles by giving us a hard-driving, hook-laden record where every track gets stuck in your head. The kind of music meant to be spun on the turntable. Music delivered to your ears straight from vinyl grooves.
“Westward the Wagons” opens the album with the heft of the Heartbreakers and the jangle of the Jayhawks. “Couldn’t Find Any Reason” is a soaring rock n’ roll anthem, complete with big harmonies and a tasteful guitar breakdown. “Looking Glass” is dusty blues rock of the highest order, complete with ’70s guitar breakdowns, big harmonies, and Hammond B-3 thrown in for good measure. Then add a touch of Head East and a pinch of Drivin’ N Cryin’.
The album itself has an organic feel to it. Every instrument, every vocal is distinct while coming together naturally to give it an aged, vintage sound. It’s music with no timestamp or dated qualities. It moves freely in sound and feel over the last five decades.
Elsewhere, “Castle Stones” locks into ’80s college rock vibes, ala REM and the Smithereens while “Between the Lines” has a low key driving rhythm and some great vocal harmonies. Album closer “Moody Judy” brings to mind the great Modern Lovers with some Midwestern grit thrown in for good measure.
Leatherman steps out from behind the drum kit of local band Bonsai to make a jangly Midwestern barn-burner with heart, soul, and attitude. All killer, no filler.
The album is available on all streaming platforms. Physical copies are available at Neat Neat Neat Records and Sweetwater Sound.