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James Leg: Below The Belt

All hail the Reverend.

Let us consider the time-honoured gravel-throated rasp. Since being defined by Beefheart and Tom Waits, the ravaged buffalo scrotum holler has long been the refuge of those lacking singing chops or much personality.

James Leg is the latest wracked carrier of the ruined distillery gargle and, from his first emission over the rusty chain boogie of Dirty South, is the real deal, backing up his roaring swagger with an innate grasp of life-soiled rudiments.

Leg is John Wesley Myers of the Black Diamond Heavies, son of a Texas preacher and staunch convert from that old-time religion to the eternal good-time diet which laces his missives with knowing poke, along with his rich Fender Rhodes.

His follow-up to 2011’s Solitary Pleasure cuts anyone on the gutter-pointed boogie but can also turn Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s Up Above My Head into a robe-swinging riot. He even manages to ram the Dirtbombs’ Can’t Stop Thinking About It through the barroom window and make The Cure’s A Forest his own.

What More ends the album with a soulful ballad, bolstered by female chorale. It’s a direction he should pursue on his next album, which I hope won’t be too long, as this is a rare raw delight.

Classic Rock 214: New albums A-L