Like myself and many others, King Leg was born in the wrong decade. King Leg is beholden to the music of their forebears. This is a good thing. To be a musician in those times, you actually had to be a musician, a requirement that has been lost to technology. King Leg’s love of old music is immediately apparent upon listening to the debut album Meet King Leg. Typically, when this happens, you find a group that sounds like this group or that songwriter. King Leg’s influences seem to be more varied than most. It all starts with Roy Orbison, who had a bit of genre hodgepodge himself. Pepper in some British invasion in the form of The Beatles and early The Who. Add in a little bit of the Grand Ole Opry from 1950s when artists like Buck Owens and Webb Pierce were at the Ryman. Mix it all together, and you’ve got the beginnings of King Leg.
Turns out, King Leg wasn’t born 70 years ago. He’s taken all of this ageless and timeless music and also integrated newer sounds like those from Radiohead. Sometimes King Leg sounds like a rock band. Other times King Leg sounds like an old country band. Other times King Leg sounds like singer-songwriters from the 1960s. The debut album, Meet King Leg, even lends its title to a certain group you might have heard of before.
The album opens strongly with the track “Great Outdoors”, a song whose arrangement epitomizes the early Beatles 3-minute power pop single, complete with a guitar hook and a downbeat-driven bridge. The following track “Cloud City” highlights Leg’s vocal style, which is very much in line with Roy Orbison, including the tremolo-style vibrato that he is known for. The third track, “Walking Again” sounds like it could have been recorded in the Ryman by a songwriter such as Webb Pierce; it is country to the core, but early country, from a time when all of Country, Blues, and Rock were being pioneered out of Jazz and Big Band music: the bass is still walkin’, and the drums are laying down a four-on-the-floor shuffle. The album continues working through these types of compositions, a rock song here, power pop there, with some country. Orbison-inspired dark and melancholy lyrics pervade throughout, especially on the ballad “Comfy Chair”. The introduction of “Until This Loneliness is Done” hearkens back to the early Who. References abound to an age of music that predates hard rock, synthesizers, or anything digital.
If you are a fan of the music that predates the 1970s, then you will likely be a fan of King Leg. If you don’t like Roy Orbison’s vocal stylings, then you likely won’t enjoy listening to King Leg. The songwriting is solid, the musicianship is good, the lyrics leave me a little wanting. All in all, Meet King Leg is a fine debut album.