Ghostleg – Cobblestone Blues
11 songs – 44 minutes
Cobblestone Blues is the debut release from St Louis native, Daniel “Ghostleg” Hamm and is an enjoyable slice of guitar-driven blues-rock.
Hamm wrote all the songs on the album, in addition to singing and playing guitar. He also enlisted support from Paul Niehaus IV on bass and keyboards, Rob Lee and Joe Meyer on drums, Carson Mann on guitars and Kari Liston on backing vocals.
There is a rough-hewn charm to Cobblestone Blues, as evidenced by the opening “Change My Ways”, which features some fine slide guitar although the focus is very much on Hamm’s sandpapered bellow of a voice that manages to sound as old as dust whist also intimating a certain vulnerability. The title track follows a similar path albeit with extended guitar solos. As one might infer from its title, “Funk In A” is a funky instrumental with some excellent saxophone and organ.
“Down That Road” opens with some atmospheric 60’s-esque slide guitar before launching into a heavy blues-rock riff, while “Down In Mississippi” features dueling slide guitars with a sound that is closer to Aerosmith than Muddy Waters. Hamm’s voice is probably more suited to the rockier tracks such as these, given his propensity to roar at times, which means that his full-bore approach can be something of an acquired taste.
“Pretty With A Mean Attitude” is a glorious title to a track that the Georgia Satellites would love to have written. “Why I Put You In My Song” features some superb single note guitar playing that nicely echoes the anger in Hamm’s vocals.
The album works best when Hamm dials back the overdrive on the guitars and the bark on his voice. The simple, hypnotic groove of “Death At My Door” is a prime example and is one of the highlights of the CD. In addition, the rhythm section of Niehaus and Lee or Meyer law down a series of first-rate grooves. It’s very hard to listen to a song like “Charlie And The Slinger” without one’s foot tapping along (and kudos to Liston for her backing vocals on this track).
Cobblestone Blues was recorded at Blue Lotus Studio in St. Louis, MO, and recorded, engineered, and produced by Niehaus, who has done an excellent job in capturing a raucously live sound. On a track like “Rolling Down The Track”, there is a distinct sense of the band flying by the seat of its pants.
Sadly, Hamm passed away in October 2020, for there is more than enough evidence on this album to suggest that Hamm had plenty more good music in him. Cobblestone Blues is well worth investigating if you like your blues-rock with lashings of slide guitar.