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Jonah Leatherman Releases New Music

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The sparkling poetics of Jonah Leatherman’s sophomore release Ensuring My Uncertainty go far beyond what I normally expect from songwriters still in the formative days of their career. The Fort Wayne, Indiana-based singer/songwriter has grown exponentially as an artist since his first album was released in 2020 without sacrificing any of the daring freshness distinguishing that outing. He courts a wide variety of influences for his work, literary and musical, without ever losing sight of his chosen medium. It results in distinctive yet accessible material. Leatherman’s talents are carving him out an unique space in modern American music that few others can claim and Ensuring My Uncertainty is one album closer to that goal.

He arguably puts his best rock foot forward with the first song “Overlap”. The track overflows with quasi-pastoral imagery that attentive listeners won’t soon forget and the breathless pacing of the song doesn’t rush its development. One of the consistent strengths of Ensuring My Uncertainty is the guitar sound Leatherman achieves. He often focuses the playing on an electric folk-like jangle and dirties it up with a dollop of distortion. Several rave-ups power the second track “Clairvoyance” and there’s an extra emotive edge present in Leatherman’s voice that differentiates it from the first track. Leatherman’s commitment to these songs is beyond question.

The album’s bass playing is one of its many musical highlights. The fluid bottom end work present during “Panoply” gives this introspective tune a surfeit of daring that helps in separating it from the pack. Leatherman’s crowning touch is, once again, an empathetic vocal that gets under your skin. It’s a moody, atmospheric performance that rates among the album’s best. “It’s Only Me & You” is one of Ensuring My Uncertainty’s more accessible numbers.  It harbors much of the same unique intelligence presiding over the collection’s best songs, but the increased emphasis on entertaining the listener pairs well with its innate substance.

“Emergence(y)” has physical dimensions that other songs lack. It’s one of the album’s cuts in an outright rock vein and the thudding bass in the center of the mix has rib-rattling muscle. The rhythm section packs a further wallop on the back of its authoritative drumming and Leatherman puts his voice in full flight for much of the track. Keyboard color further fleshes out “Beyond the Lines”, but the key instrument remains the guitar. Having said that, however, the drumming adeptly handles its unusual time-keeping chores without ever once letting the song go astray.

“Victory Lap” takes a turn in a different direction. It’s a solo tune, in essence, as the backing band fireworks grow still, and Leatherman fixes his attention on an acoustic conclusion for the release. It’s a shrewd decision. The glittering low-key fretwork complements his voice and brings Ensuring My Uncertainty to a close with great results. Jonah Leatherman’s second album is a mesmerizing advance over his already outstanding debut and positions this young singer/songwriter for even more memorable accomplishments in the years to come. He has the talent to carry himself a long way. 

Heather Savage

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