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James Leg - Blood On The Keys album review

Blues dragged kicking and screaming by the Leg

James Leg Blood On The Keys album cover

Blessed with the kind of subterranean growl that almost makes Tom Waits sound like a choirboy, former Black Diamond Heavies singer and keyboardist James Leg – the nom de plume of John Wesley Myers – has done much to pull the blues away from any number of pub bores and six-string technicians who regularly sanitise and sully the genre.

Like Jack White before him, Leg boils the genre down to its elemental components – in his case, keyboards and drums – and applies a brutal approach thanks to his mastery of the Fender Rhodes, a love of heavy distortion and a healthy punk-rock attitude. Crucially, Leg has built on the foundations of his two previous solo releases to add breadth and depth to what could be a limiting approach.

While Leg’s ability to roll out rambunctious barnstormers such as Human Lawn Dart and Tao Te Leg remains undiminished, the album is elevated thanks to the inclusion of influences such as gospel on the title track, and the balladry of prime Rolling Stones on I’ll Take It. Open up and bleed.

Julian Marszalek is the former Reviews Editor of The Blues Magazine. He has written about music for Music365, Yahoo! Music, The Quietus, The Guardian, NME and Shindig! among many others. As the Deputy Online News Editor at Xfm he revealed exclusively that Nick Cave’s second novel was on the way. During his two-decade career, he’s interviewed the likes of Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne, and has been ranted at by John Lydon. He’s also in the select group of music journalists to have actually got on with Lou Reed. Marszalek taught music journalism at Middlesex University and co-ran the genre-fluid Stow Festival in Walthamstow for six years.