Chris O’Leary’s Alligator Records Debut, The Hard Line, Available January 12, 2024

Alli­ga­tor Records is pleased to announce the sign­ing of soul­ful vocal­ist, dynam­ic har­mon­i­ca mas­ter and gift­ed song­writer Chris O’Leary. His label debut, The Hard Line, will be released on Fri­day, Jan­u­ary 12, 2024. It will be avail­able at all dig­i­tal ser­vices, on CD and on translu­cent red vinyl LP. O’Leary is among the blues and roots world’s most tal­ent­ed unsung heroes. The Marine vet­er­an, ex-Fed­er­al police offi­cer and for­mer lead singer of The Barn Burn­ers (fea­tur­ing Lev­on Helm on drums) has walked a hard line from his upstate New York home to stages all over the world. No Depres­sion mag­a­zine says, “O’Leary’s voice con­tains star­tling emotion…reaching an inten­si­ty and emo­tion­al raw­ness [that’s] pri­mal. The per­for­mances prac­ti­cal­ly vibrate with an authen­tic­i­ty that stays with you.” 

Between his large, ath­let­ic frame and his mil­i­tary-style “high and tight” hair­cut, O’Leary com­mands atten­tion, singing his indeli­ble orig­i­nal songs with pure, unadul­ter­at­ed soul and play­ing har­mon­i­ca with urgent loco­mo­tive pow­er. His keen­ly writ­ten songs come direct­ly from his col­or­ful and some­times har­row­ing life expe­ri­ences. A dis­ci­ple and friend of both The Band’s leg­endary drummer/vocalist/songwriter Lev­on Helm and icon­ic blues har­mon­i­ca giant James Cot­ton, O’Leary has been play­ing pro­fes­sion­al­ly since the 1990s, with five pre­vi­ous solo albums to his cred­it. O’Leary is beyond thrilled to be with Alli­ga­tor. On The Hard Line, he set his sights high and cre­at­ed what he says is “the best work I’ve ever done. It’s the most focused, most to-the-point album I’ve ever made.”

Alli­ga­tor Records founder and pres­i­dent Bruce Iglauer is hap­py to wel­come O’Leary into the Alli­ga­tor fam­i­ly. “What first struck me about Chris was his ter­rif­ic song­writ­ing, which ranged from hilar­i­ous tales to soul-deep per­son­al sto­ries. I love the pas­sion he puts into every song. As a musi­cian, he’s a world-class har­mon­i­ca play­er (and a fine gui­tar and bass play­er) but his goal is not to show off his chops. He plays emo­tion­al solos that tell the sto­ry of the lyrics and height­en the impact of the song.”

The Hard Line, pro­duced by O’Leary and fea­tur­ing 12 strik­ing orig­i­nals, has many sto­ries to tell. With over 30 new­ly-writ­ten, nev­er-record­ed songs to choose from (most­ly writ­ten dur­ing the down­time of the pan­dem­ic) O’Leary and Iglauer care­ful­ly picked what Chris calls “the best of them all.” The wild­ly ener­getic orig­i­nal song Lost My Mind pre­mieres today. Watch the visu­al­iz­er video below.