Andrew Leahey elected for us to meet at Atmology, West End’s new hub for communal rendezvous and coffee consumption. We find seating in an upstairs “office” space; it is an empty room, save for forty-five throw pillows and a white-washed, shabby chic table that sits low to the ground, Japanese style. Leahey has a joyful bearded face half-hidden behind a mop of seventies hair; we sit on opposite sides of the table, bean-bag locked, with mason jarred coffee. This is my perfect kind of morning.
What intrigues me most about Andrew Leahey is that besides being an active musician, he is also an active music journalist. For the first thirty minutes of my caffeine rush, I find myself talking to the reporter in him, indulging in his multi-city experience. “Do you think Nashville’s a good place to pursue this whole thing?” I ask him, wide-eyed, hoping he’ll send me to some faraway mecca ripe with journalistic success. “I don’t really think anywhere is a good place to be doing this. [Like being a musician], you do it for the love of the game.” My face furrows as I ponder the reality of my career path; a lifetime of uncertainty and potential starvation. “But what if I decide to just pick up in two years and move to San Francisco?” God, I’m neurotic. “Then you’ll be in your mid-twenties moving to San Francisco. That’s the dream.” I really like this guy.
Leahey is a classically trained musician, having sung through Juliard during his two-year stint in New York City. I ask him what got him started as a singer-songwriter, and he gives me a familiar anecdote: “My mother realized I could sing- and as a skinny guy, I wasn’t going to impress any girls on the football field.” Violin got me nowhere, but things seem to be working out for him; he’s happily married, producing solid compositions, and has kick-ass hair.
The idea for Andrew Leahey and the Homestead formulated during his time in Ann Arbor Michigan, working as a journalist. Retrospective images of his hometown in Virginia began to surface in his mind; though he was a huge fan of power-pop and punk-rock, the sounds he was most drawn to creating were those emblematic of the highway and the heartland. Two years ago, he moved to Nashville to bring this band into fruition.
With a rotating group of musicians in both Nashville and Richmond, VA, the term “homestead” seemed apropos. “It was expressing the idea that home isn’t just one place, but more a conglomerate of different buildings,” says Leahey. As an chronic wander luster, this concept resonates with me, and so does the evocation of free-spirited highway meandering in The Homestead’s music.
Leahey’s newest EP, Summer Sleeves, was released in April of this year. It is a four-track reflection of the liberation fueled from being on the road. True to a roots-based heartland sound a la Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, the EP possesses that kind-hearted simplicity that grounds us in the sweeter side of the unknown. “Little in Love” begins the EP, producing images of out-of-state plates, morning church bells, and the gentle moments in a bourgeoning courtship. This theme continues through the next few songs; “Don’t Make Me Sad” boasts Leahey’s classically trained vocal chops, while “Who Wants An Easy Love” combines lyrics with a universal sensibility over crooning instrumentals. The EP mimics the easy introspection of journey on the road; it is light in nature and honest in its sentiments, never dwelling too long on the thoughts just out of the rear view’s sight.