Northeast Underground

James Keyes celebrates new album with Haydenville show

The Middle album coverJames Keyes

The Middle

(DIY)

While past album reviews have labeled New England singer and songwriter Keyes as a purveyor of “stripped down, bluesy folk with alt-country overtones,” his latest release finds the musician expanding his trademark sound with pleasing results.

Opening with the stomping, piano-led instrumental “Root For The Bull,” the record engages a listener’s attention immediately with horns and electric guitar before segueing to the more twang-filled cut “Darkness Comes Creeping.” Featuring lyrics that mention “hounds of hell,” an “old black train” and a “never ending war,” the song is filled with mythic subject matter.

Though similar themes are explored on numbers like “The Traveler” and “Roll With The Punches,” the real appeal of this album lies in its approach to more lighthearted material. The harmonica-laced “Taking My Time” swings as comfortably as a porch-hung hammock, and “Little Bird” plays like a sweet, genuinely heartfelt ode to a loved one.

Yes, Keyes can come off like a gruff balladeer at times. But when his growl is backed as ably as it is here, there’s no arguing with his bite.

Watch video of James Keyes performing his new song “Darkness Comes Creeping” here:

James Keyes performs November 23, 5:30 p.m., Bread Euphoria Bakery and Cafe, 206 Main St., Haydenville, (413) 268-7757, www.breadeuphoria.org.

For more information on James Keyes please visit www.jameskeyes.com/home.cfm.

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