Andrew Leahey & the Homestead may be a debut album, but it sure doesn't sound like one -- the first solo project from the music journalist turned singer and songwriter is blessed with the craft and confidence you would expect from someone with a significantly longer résumé, and while Leahey recorded this material with a makeshift band comprised of friends and colleagues, the interplay between the musicians (including members of Exebelle & the Rusted Cavalcade, the Trillions, and David Schultz & the Skyline) is surefooted and enthusiastic, recalling the work of players well accustomed to one another after a few years of playing roadhouses. Leahey's songwriting is planted firmly in country-influenced roots rock, with melodies whose sunny side doesn't undercut their emotional strength, and while many of the tunes here have a firm but easygoing country stride, such as "Flyover Country" and "Heart Off My Hands," these guys don't mind rocking out, and "Penitentiary Guys," "Oh My, Miranda," and "Virginia" kick up plenty of dust and boast some impressive guitar work from Philip Heesen III on six-string and Kerry Hutcherson on pedal steel. Bassist Robbie King and drummer Matt Morton hold down the rhythms with strength and versatility, and Leahey sings his tales of love and misadventure with a voice that's sweetly potent, infusing the songs with a winning, unforced sincerity (his piano work is pretty good, too, although keyboardist Ben Willson is responsible for the most memorable parts). And the production by Leahey, Heesen, Travis Tucker, and Evan Bateman captures the music with a powerful, naturalistic sound that sounds like the interplay of a real band on a stage without feeling messy or uncertain. Andrew Leahey & the Homestead is an engaging and enjoyable effort from someone who has learned a lot from classic country-rock, roots rock, and alt-country and is making some impressive new music of his own.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming