Pop Goes The News — Montreal singer-songwriter Patrick Lehman is busy this month warming up for the release of his new album, Butchy’s Son.
After performing Saturday night at The Living Room in New York City, he’s back in Canada for a series of gigs — including an Aug. 15 show at The Rex in Toronto — in advance of his album launch party Aug. 28 at his hometown’s La Sala Rossa.
Butchy’s Son, Lehman’s fourth release, is an homage to the singer’s late father, who was the third in the family to be named Leo. (Not surprisingly, Lehman’s middle name is Leo).
“They called him Butchy around the house,” Lehman recalls. “I thought it was an intriguing title for people who don’t know the meaning and then, for me, it’s something personal as well.”
The tribute is fitting because Leo… err, Butchy… had a hand in crafting Lehman’s sound, which is inspired by classic American singers like Donny Hathaway and Bill Withers.
“I guess it’s just from growing up and listening to the music that was in my parents’ house,” Lehman explains. “There was a lot of vinyl. It was ‘60s, ‘70s soul and R&B.”
There was also, he recalls, the Rolling Stones — “but even that music is really rooted in blues and soul music.”
Perhaps no other artist, though, shaped Lehman’s sound more than Stevie Wonder.
“I can remember the day I skipped school for the first time to listen to one of his vinyl records and then I think I did that every week until I graduated high school,” he says with a smile.
“The minute I heard his music, everything changed.”
Lehman, who was singing in church when he was just a young boy, honed his craft in school before making his mark on Montreal’s local music scene as part of bands.
He remains a student of the music he loves and says he enjoys digging up more obscure recordings from the era.
Lehman says his path to being a singer was predetermined.
“I can’t pinpoint a time that I decided to go for this,” says Lehman. “I just always wanted it. I’ve never thought of anything else that I would have a passion for so it’s just always been this.
“I don’t think I can pick a time or age. It just kind of felt right.”
Lehman eschews suggestions there’s a Montreal sound that puts him in the company of introspective vocalists like Leonard Cohen and Rufus Wainwright.
“There’s a lot of different kinds of music. You can walk down St. Laurent and walk into a club and see something great that you would never would have heard of,” he says. “I don’t know how much the city has to do with that.
“The city is great but I’m not sure if it has any specific influence on the sound that’s coming out of there because there’s a ton of different stuff that’s coming out of there.”
Lehman says his goal with Butchy’s Son was to put together a collection of songs that “sound modern and current but still have a bit of a throwback feel.”
The first single, “Games”, examines the realities of being in a longterm relationship. “It’s kind of a heavy topic,” the singer admits, “but then you hear the music and it’s kind of upbeat. That was on purpose.”
BELOW: Watch an acoustic performance of “Games” by Patrick Lehman.
Lehman is anxious to perform the new material live. He’s played small venues in his native country and big stages at festivals in Europe and says there are different pressures involved with both kinds of shows.
“When you’re playing a club gig you should make it feel like you’re on a huge stage and when you’re on a huge stage you should make it feel like it’s a little club gig,” he says.
“For me, it’s just about connecting with the audience. I’m still trying to build my fan base so the three people who are listening in the club or 10,000 people who are listening in a field in the Netherlands… they’re all important to me.
“I’m trying to turn people on to my music.”
Lehman is hoping Butchy’s Son will do just that.
“I definitely would love to reach out to as many people as I can. I want everybody to hear my songs,” he explains.
“I feel like when I’m on stage or when I’m making music that’s who I am and the rest of the time I’m kind of faking it.”
Butchy’s Son by Patrick Lehman comes out Aug. 21.