Rust and Leeroy Stagger never sleep, it seems. Just a year after the release of the superb Radiant Land, the prolific troubadour returns with another fine collection, his eighth studio album. Stagger and his rhythm section recorded this in Portland, OR, with Los Lobos's Steve Berlin as producer. He contributed sax and keyboards, which add muscle to the sound, and helped the band add subtly adventurous touches, as on the widescreen sonics of "The Other Half." Stagger's punk rock roots surface here, especially on the hard-hitting first half of the album and tracks like "Goodnight Berlin" and "Cities on Fire." That latter tune is a fiery album highlight, inspired by the Occupy movement and infused with a righteously political passion all too often lacking these days. The acknowledged influence of Steve Earle is clearly in play on Truth Be Sold, both sonically and in the blue-collar lyrical approach of a tune like "Mister." Stagger isn't afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve either, as heard on the pedal-steel-inflected "Break My Heart" and tender album closer "Jackie." Truth Be Sold doesn't quite possess the sustained brilliance of Radiant Land, but it's still a fine addition to the impressive body of work of a troubadour worthy of far greater recognition on his home turf.
“From start to finish, it feels like Stagger put every ounce of himself into each melodies and each couplet. It’s sad but it’s honest, which is something lacking from music and life these days.”
-Herohill (Little Victories)
“There has always been a swagger about Stagger, a slightly cocky self-confidence that’s actually quite endearing. His sound and vocals have a somewhat loose and ragged feel that brings Paul Westerberg to mind, and there’s an open and honest feel to his unaffected voice. This is arguably his best work yet.”
-Exclaim (Radiant Land)
“(Stagger)’s uncompromisingly honest, and all the more powerful for it, and twinned with the wonderfully evocative, haunting, and eclectic music within, Depression River is as mighty as the Mississippi.”
– AllMusic (Depression River)