11 songs – 39 minutes
The raw, jagged, overdriven guitar that fires up the eponymous opening track of this album is panned hard to the left channel. So when the rest of band kicks in after the fourth bar, the impact is all the greater. And it’s an impressive statement of intent. The song sits on a one chord vamp for the first three verses, increasingly building the tension before the delayed and yet somehow inevitable resolution. Chris “Junior” Malleck’s harmonica soars and swoops across the verses as Mike Elliot warns the listener that “Some people selling snake oil, yeah, they try the bait and switch. Beware the confidence man, don’t you fall for their tricks.”
Featuring Elliot on guitars and vocals, Malleck on harmonica, Steve Toms on bass, and Jeff Wagner on drums, Daddy Long Legs is a low-down, greasy, garage blues band from Waterloo, Ontario. The Devil’s In The Detail is their fifth CD and second for indie label Busted Flat Records. Featuring 11 self-written songs, the album was also produced by the band and recorded at The Sound Distillery in Kitchener, Ontario.
The band’s website proclaims that “This ain’t your grandma’s blues. This is Daddy Long Legs.” And I certainly can’t imagine my grandmother shaking a leg to their high energy songs. But while the band claims to be blazing a new trail for the blues, their music is actually closer to the blues-rock of Eric Sardinas, Johnny Winter or even The Black Keys, with Elliot’s raunchy guitar riffs the fulcrum around which the rest of the band rock.
It is probably fair to say that there isn’t anything particularly novel or different about Daddy Long Legs’ songs when compared to a host of other garage blues bands. Lyrically, the band mines the traditional seams of alcohol (“40 Hour Week”, “Half Pint” and “Get Drunk And Be Someone”), good love gone bad (“Your Love Is Killing Me”), male machismo (“Easy For Me”) and lifestyle warnings (“Borrowed Time” and “Dug My Own Grave”). What does set the band apart however is the energy and commitment with which they play.
The punk rockabilly of “Get Drunk And Be Someone” is especially enjoyable. And, as one might expect from a band with such strong garage roots, Daddy Long Legs is not a band to overdo things. They rattle through the 11 songs in only 39 minutes, and while Elliot and Malleck both get plenty of opportunities to take solos, they always keep them admirably short and punchy.
However while The Devil’s In The Detail certainly demonstrates Daddy Long Legs’ ability to play with power and drive, there isn’t a huge amount of subtlety or variety on display. The band is no doubt a great live act, but there is a feeling on this CD that everything was turned up to 11 and left there. Even the acoustic closer, “Dug My Own Grave”, has a curiously leaden feel to it. This may be partly due to the dense production, but it may also be deliberate because this approach no doubt works extremely well in a live setting. But as a general rule, albums tend to require a little more variety in order to retain the listener’s attention on repeated listening.
There are however many things to like about this album, which serves notice that Daddy Long Legs is a band of substance and verve. I would love to catch one of their live performances and, while this may not be the CD to launch the band internationally, it is certainly recommended for those who like their blues served loud, hard and rocking.