Anyone who’s followed Skillet at all over the course of the past decade will be familiar with not just Jen Ledger’s authoritative drumming but also her sweet vocals, the perfect counterpart to Skillet frontman John Cooper’s raspy gritty vocals. Ever since her vocal feature on the hit song Hero her vocals have become more and more prominent on Skillet records and have become a part of Skillet’s signature sound. For years now there have been rumblings a solo project has been in the works and, today, the much anticipated and eagerly awaited project from LEDGER is finally here. Let’s see if it was worth the wait…
LEDGER bursts right out of the corner with a real hard punch. The personal Not Dead Yet draws comparisons with boxing in a ring, facing your opponent a la your own fight face on and, ultimately, triumphing. Excellently crafted from start to finish, the song will sweep you right up into its arms and have you belting out the first chorus on your first listen, despite not knowing the words yet.
Warrior, which enlists the help of John Cooper on vocals, keeps the fighting theme and rally cry going and is perhaps the most Skillet-esque track on the record. The driving drums hit that bit harder, the edm synths add real depth and the vocal combination of Jen and John throughout is, as always, pitch perfect.
The third track on the EP, appropriately titled BOLD, makes a bold statement about stepping out from the shade of the lie we’re not good enough and being bold enough to break the mold. Jen’s faith shines brightly throughout and the words “I’m gonna be bold, gotta hold my head up, coz I know when I get up, there’s a victory I already hold, I’m going to be strong, gotta get my fight on, coz I know who’s side I’m on, Got a heart like steel and a faith like gold, I’m gonna be bold“ will become the life cry of thousands worldwide.
Foreigner and Ruins showcase the diversity of Jen’s voice. Foreigner takes the EP into the surreal spectrum with a VERIDIA-esque vibe. Poppy and ethereal in feeling, the wondering synths emphasize the message of knowing we don’t belong here as believers. Ruins highlights the softer much more vulnerable side of Jen’s voice as she pulls you into the song like a pro. Backed by a simple piano, Jen explores the theme of being broken and left in the ruins of her ‘crumbled pieces on the floor’ and yet still being ‘perfectly ruined’ in God’s eyes. The message that God uses our pieces and scars is emphatically delivered in this beautifully done ballad.
Iconic picks the pace up to finish the EP on a pop infused high. Unashamedly praising God for being the spark that sets her on fire and being her ‘world,’ her ‘ledge and’ her ‘star,’ Jen will have you shouting your own praises from the rooftops in symphony. Complete with the phat pulsating synths-guitar combo, it’ll have you dancing and bobbing along wherever you are.
Every now and then a release comes along which just has that extra little tangy zing to it, stands out from the rest and, quite frankly, has special written all over it. This is undoubtedly one of those. Comparisons to Skillet are bound to happen and there’s more than enough here for Skillet lovers but Jen’s managed to expertly carve her own path and done so in such a way that she comes across as a seasoned pro who’s been releasing solo music for decades. A feat which simply can’t be stated enough.
The vocal performance throughout is strong and confident and yet the vocals have a beautiful little vulnerable tremble in them that helps the songs weave their way into your soul. The songwriting and musical arrangement are top notch, a testament to Korey Cooper’s guidance, among others. And to top it all off, the production from Korey and Seth Mosley is really well done and complements the variety throughout the EP perfectly.
Put simply, LEDGER is a finely crafted masterpiece and you’d be hard pressed to find a better release in the whole of 2018.
All of which leads to one final question, when’s the next EP coming? No seriously…