GW Premiere: Jon LaDeau's "Younger Days"

Article Contributed by gratefulweb | Published on Monday, February 15, 2021

Jon LaDeau is a guitarist, songwriter, and singer based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Over the past 12 years, he has toured internationally in support of four solo albums, shared festival bills with Jeff Tweedy, Emmylou Harris, Sturgill Simpson, and Commander Cody and has toured nationally as a sideman with Kelli Scarr, April Smith and The Great Picture Show, and others. Since 2014 Jon has also found a home as a member of The National Reserve. Voted Pennsylvania's #1 New York Band in 2019, The National Reserve has had the good grace to perform regularly by growing a devoted fan base and sharing the stage with artists like Tedeschi Trucks Band, John Moreland, Brent Cobb, Amy Helm, Margo Price, Daddy Long Legs and many others.

Reflecting on his musical journey, Jon’s new single "Younger Days" waxes nostalgic about the good old days, while not necessarily wanting to revisit them. It’s a collaboration between bassist Justin Kimmel (Antibalas, Armo, Toubab Krewe), drummer Sam Merrick (Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones), and guitarist Chris Parker (Christina Courtin, The Burnt Ends).

“I was at my childhood home for a visit and came across a box set of the Stax catalog someone had given me," Jon says when asked how the song came together. "I wanted to capture the sound and feel of those recordings—a live performance of the band in a room together with minimal overdubs and edits. Sam invited me over to his and Justin's studio and we just hit record."

Younger Days

"Younger Days" is a nostalgic, feel-good blue-eyed soul groove anchored by the impressive Daptone / Antibalas hybrid rhythm section of drummer Sam Merrick (Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones) and bassist Justin Kimmel (Antibalas, Toubab Krewe). The tune is a perfect showcase for LaDeau's breezy sound, bell-clear vocals and soulful guitar work. And the video is a nostalgic, intimate look back at LaDeau's music beginnings, culled entirely from childhood home movies.

In some down time from touring, I found myself in my favorite place in my apartment, the kitchen. Being off the road, means slowing down. I cook things that take a while. Stews, sauces, big cuts of meat, maybe get out the crock pot. While I wait, I noodle around on the guitar, listen to some music and reflect on all things that get put on hold on the road. Sometimes a song comes. "Younger Days" came all at once, music and lyrics. It seems to be about the sacrifices we make in life to achieve the things that are important to us. Kinda like looking back and laughing at your younger self, but also appreciating the view from where you’re currently standing. I guess I was waxing nostalgic about the good old days, missing some of the things that passed me by, but appreciating what’s around me now.

I developed the song with bassist Justin Kimmel (Antibalas, Armo, Toubab Krewe), drummer Sam Merrick (Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones), and guitarist Chris Parker (Christina Courtin, The Burnt Ends). These guys are all long-time collaborators who I feel lucky to work with.  We recorded at Justin and Sam’s studio in Brooklyn, live in one room together. We’re talking pre-pandemic here. I’ve always been inspired by the Stax recordings and we were shooting for something that just captured the band playing together without much planning or editing afterward. We just hit record, did a couple takes, and got something that I felt captured the feeling of the song.

Since recording the studio version, I’ve also had the good fortune to develop it with The National Reserve in our live set. Songs always grow and take on a new character on stage and I’m looking forward to getting back to that as soon as we can. For now, I just hope it can make people feel good for a few minutes.