Album Reviews

James Leg

Blood on the Keys

Artist:     James Leg

Album:     Blood on the Keys

Label:     Alive Records

Release Date:     09/30/2016


The blues are often meant to be dirty, but James Leg (better known as John Wesley Myers, of Black Diamond Heavies fame) specializes in a variety dirtier than most. Here’s a man willing to scrape a song down to its rawest core using 60-grit sandpaper. He growls like he’s spent years on the Tom Waits gravel-for-breakfast diet, likes his instruments amped to eleven and wails on the organ like Gregg Allman possessed by the devil.

With a backing band tight enough to handle any backbeat and shuffle Leg throws out, this crew packs as much musical badassery into a lean 35 minutes as your usual rocker manages in two hours. They leave your eardrums ringing before the opener “Human Lawn Dart” is over (and that title nicely shows the attitude you’re dealing with already). Everyone tears it up from the frenzy of “St Michel Shuffle” to the greasiest boogie you’ve ever heard in “Dogjaw.”

Most of the disc follows suit in blistering fashion with only a rare letup or two. “I’ll Take It” gives a take on soul that’s almost vaguely pretty—or at least as pretty as something can sound with this fuzzy vocal rasp over it—while the title track is the closest thing to a ballad to be found. Just for giggles, they throw in some occasional violin and viola that add some folk flavor without lessening the voltage at all. Blood on the Keys leaves me convinced the title could really be just as literal as it looks. Brace yourself and play it loud.

-Geno Thackara

Listen to “Human Lawn Dart” on the site HERE

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