One month before their debut album hits the racks, Early James and The Latest took the stage at The Analog in Nashville. It was a frigid winter night in Music City but the crowd was anything but cold as the band walked out. Nashville doesn’t role over for new bands easily so it was nice to hear the rapturous applause fill the room before the first note was played. I had the tremendous fortune to catch the band not once but twice at last year’s Americana Fest and they were the standout act of the festival. My wife has heard me go on and on since those two shows so I was happy she was able to attend the show with me. Does any of that matter? Not one bit but I wanted to let you know where I was coming from and why I was beyond excited to catch the boys from ‘Bama in a live setting again.
The first thing that hits you is the groove. It is dirty, a little dangerous and a refreshing, yet maddening mix of influences that may or may not be instantly familiar. I have read numerous reviews that reference Tom Waits but I’m not a huge TW fan and maybe I don’t want to hear it. The voice of 26 year old James Mullins is what supplies the knockout punch. You haven’t heard anything like it, ever.
The first song “My Sweet Camellia” opens up like a David Lynch film, darkly and ominously. Ford Boswell is wailing away on pedal steel while the rhythm section is pushing a thuggish low end through out. “Gone as a Ghost” rocks out like Santana without the Latin influence. If you closed your eyes you wouldn’t know it was a four-piece filling up that room with their big, big sound.
“Dishes” about washing your dishes while drunk is a personal fave. The countrypolitan steel weaves all over the road and you end up with a grin from ear to ear by the time the song finishes. The songs all complement each other without being singularly derivative. The tracks all interlock as though you were watching a movie or reading a real good book with an ending you can’t wait to get to.
“High Horse” and “Stockholm” round out the set admirably before they close with “Blue Pill Blues.” This is, for lack of a better way of putting it, the cherry on top of the sundae. Twin electric guitars just keep grinding at you while the shimmery percussion and pulsing bass just keep pushing the performance higher and higher. There is something visceral and forbidden about this song and it grabs me every damn time I hear as though I am hearing it for the first time all over again. The band’s debut album Singing For My Supper (Nonesuch) is out as of yesterday on Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound imprint and it is, without a doubt a work of immediate greatness. The live performance is indicative of what the album holds, what you see is absolutely what you get. Pick up the album and do your best to catch these guys on tour if you get a chance. http://earlyjamesandthelatest.com