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James Leg

Solitary Pleasure

(Alive; US: 12 Apr 2011; UK: 18 Apr 2011)

I try to shy away from “this album sounds like the result of Band X taking Band Y out for tacos then going to see Band Z perform aboard a submarine” write-ups, but with James Leg (aka John Wesley Myers of the Black Diamond Heavies and the Immortal Lee County Killers), the description is just too tantalizing to pass up. Solitary Pleasure sounds like Tom Waits’ Small Change as performed by the Eagles of Death Metal’s Jesse “The Devil” Hughes. After two opening needle-in-the-red trash-rock burners (“Have to Get It On” and “Do How You Wanna”), Leg—abetted by drummer Andy Jet Jody—shifts gear to piano-led singer/songwriter mode with just enough cock-rock swagger sprinkled throughout, as on the appropriately sinister—dig those organ blasts!—cover of Link Wray’s “Fire and Brimstone” and the we-gotta-motor closer “No Time to Tarry”. Leg howls and growls, as he describes his vocal approach in the liner notes, through the hard luck “Nobody’s Fault” (“I blew all my dough / I ain’t got no place to go”), the haunted, smoky (ha) “Drowning in Fire” and the album’s emotional centerpiece, “Drinking Too Much”, which feels especially torn from Small Change‘s tales of booze, denial and regret: “Go on and pack your bags and leave / You tell me that I’m drinking too much. . . / Don’t you think that I know it myself?” With Leg’s desperate, sozzled delivery, the tune is truly heartbreaking. Long live rock and soul and pianos and devil horns.

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