The Alex Leach Band’s Jim Lauderdale-produced debut, I’m The Happiest When I’m Moving (2021), earned praise as “a bold statement [of] their fresh take on bluegrass — one that draws on a wide-ranging set of historical sounds, yet remains as authentic as Alex himself” (County Sales), while an archetypal example of Leach’s ability to unearth a “deep catalog” gem, “Golden Rule,” spent an unprecedented 19 weeks at #1 on Bluegrass Today’s weekly Gospel airplay chart.
As the summer of 2022 begins, Mountain Home Music Company’s Alex Leach Band is back with a second effort that takes an even deeper dive into the fresh, authentic sounds that characterized the singer/songwriter’s first release for the label.
Produced by award-winning songwriter Jon Weisberger, All The Way signals, as its title suggests, Leach’s commitment to a distinctive musical path. Opening with the exuberantly hopeful title track, the project quickly offers up two covers that serve to reveal the breadth of his influences—one, an intimate duo reading of Paul Simon’s “Slip Sliding Away” that features Miranda Leach, and the other a breakneck rendition of “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” that nods both to songwriter Joe South’s original and to another “deep catalog” entry, Cliff Waldron’s ‘grassed up 1970 version. From there, the collection ranges through a dazzling assortment of originals—some by Leach alone, others written in collaboration with Miranda (who also contributes a lively look at love as a metaphorical gamble), Lauderdale and Weisberger—before concluding with a final cover, this one written by longtime friend Evan Whitten Ondriezek.
The eclectic set reveals Leach’s many gifts—as a wide-ranging songwriter, proficient guitarist, inventive arranger and, above all, instantly recognizable singer who convincingly inhabits each song’s character. There’s the lovelorn narrator of “Loveland,” the stern seeker of vengeance in “Little Secret,” the heartsick wonderer of “She’s On A Different Train,” the guilt-racked survivor of “Lineman In The Rain” and more, with each song given a setting that underlines and amplifies its essential character. With regular bassist JT Coleman present throughout, Leach presides over a cast of musicians that includes band members Jason Johnson (banjo) and Joshua Gooding (mandolin) and a varied group of guests: labelmate Carley Arrowood (fiddle), banjoist Derek Vaden (Larry Stephenson Band), fiddlers Chris Sexton (Nothin’ Fancy) and Bryan McDowell, pedal steel guitarist Chris Castle (Darryl Worley), legendary drummer Tony Creasman, and longtime friend and colleague Roscoe Morgan on mandolin. Carefully tailored to the needs of the song, each configuration of supporting musicians serves to bring Leach’s varied approaches to life, from the straight ahead, blazing bluegrass of “Little Secret” to the rolling country rhythms of “High Tide.”
"The Alex Leach Band has entered a new season of growth this past year,” Leach notes, “and I couldn't be more excited to share this fresh music that has been created as a result. This album is full of original tunes that I recently penned. I was honored to collaborate with Jim Lauderdale, Jon Weisberger, and my wife, Miranda, on a few as well. There are several special guests on this album and everyone involved knocked it out of the park. Thanks to all those who have helped make this project a reality. This is the beginning of a new era for The Alex Leach Band, and we are ready to go 'all the way!' Sit back, crank the knob up, and enjoy!"