10 tracks / 39:11
Tom Leggett has been in the music business since he was a teen growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, but the influences of his new hometown, New Orleans, have added a distinct flavor and character to his expression of music, and his tunes certainly have a lot of character! His sophomore solo album, Jewel in My Crown, is a cool collection of ten original songs that he performed with some of the finest musicians in the Crescent City.
New Orleans has helped to make Tom what he is today. After arriving in town in the late 1990s, he honed his craft with the legendary jazz guitar instructor Hank Mackie, and soon after founded Idletime, a jazz-funk band that played hundreds of gigs per year. After the terrible hurricane season of 2005 took its toll on the Crescent City and his bandmates, Leggett started working as a guitarist wherever he was needed, which gave him the opportunity to play with an amazing variety of quality talent. In 2013 Tom released his debut album, Spinnin’ My Wheels, and now he fronts his own blues and roots rock band.
Jewel in My Crown has ten original songs that were written by Leggett, and the studio crew includes a nice selection of that aforementioned NOLA talent. Tom produced the album and handled the vocals and guitars, and the first three tracks include Scott Jackson on bass, Terrence Houston on drums, Rik Fletcher on piano, and the horns of Leon Brown, James Martin, and Terrance Taplin.
The title track comes up first, and “Jewel in My Crown” is an upbeat song of love and life, with a warm New Orleans vibe, a heavy bass line, and a warm horn arrangement that works well with the organ of Mikey “B-3” Burkart. There is a similar feel with “Little Things,” which features a sublime trumpet solo from Brown, and it is fun to listen to Leggett’s voice as it has an edge that gives it a unique character. Then band shifts into a funky rock mode for “She Prays,” giving Tom the chance to throw down some highly competent guitar leads.
The horns take a break after this first part of the set, and Derek Eidson takes over on bass, which takes the forefront on a fine tribute to NOLA, and “Further I Roam” is a refreshing reggae tune with a catchy chorus. The listener will find a similar syncopated beat on “Happy Song,” which contains a message of hope in an otherwise troubled world. Leggett also works a love song into the mix, and “This Time” is an easy-going 1950s style ballad with cool vocal harmonies, a more modern guitar tone, and a nice touch of B-3 from Burkart.
Setting up the finale is “Come on Back Home” which has the feel of an Irish pub song with its ¾ time signature and its straightforward lyrics. Then, after 40 minutes, the set finishes up with “Whiskey Goin’ Round,” a laid-back roadhouse tune that with more than enough drinking references plus some lovely harp work from Jimmy Sweetwater and jazzy piano from Tom Worrell.
Tom Leggett did well with Jewel in My Crown, as the songs are well written with vivid stories and imagery, and his fellow musicians are all top-shelf selections. This is a nice collection of roots, blues, and rock, which ends up being a cool bit of Americana. If you dig the New Orleans scene, this album would be a fine addition to your collection, and if you are going to be in the Big Easy make sure you check Tom’s website for the gig list, as he is a fixture of the club scene there.