self-titled – Left Foot Down
Given the very rich musical heritage in the hills and storied cities in
Tennessee, you would think there would be a bunch of prominent jambands out
of the Volunteer State. Or maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention.
Now that I’ve listened to the self-titled debut CD by Left Foot Down, I
definitely missed one very good one. In the footsteps of other
Southern-fried rock and roll bands like the Allman Brothers and the Black
Crowes, Left Foot Down is coming along with soul, hooks and even a message
or two. This band is simultaneously energetic, perceptive, and writes damn
good songs with solid musicianship. Left Foot Down is for real.
Left Foot Down connects to their regional pedigree with hot rock guitar
themes, prominent vocals and a good-time, yet sophisticated Southern rock
groove. Trey Sansom (rhythm guitar, lead vocals), with a style reminiscent
of a less tortured Chris Robinson, has a distinctive, very strong vocal with
substance that plays perfect complement to the dual lead guitar lineup. The
duets/trades by J.C. Haun (lead) and John Montgomery (lead/slide) make it
feel itlike a trip to Montgomery via Memphis with the Allman Brothers.
"Higher Ground" feels good from note one: a well-written song with a catchy
funk rock groove and – at just over five minutes – still manages to get in a
decent jam with some clear departure points. A song about jamming,
Familiar Face, plays Sansom’s vocals and John Montgomery’s searing
slide guitar in opposition, making this one feel like that hayrack
ride with the Georgia Satellites outside of Athens with more soul and less
cheese. Three Years Gone throws a curve with the vocals of drummer,
Brack Owens. Different vocal feel than Sansom, but certainly capable. This
is very appropriately followed by the high energy Jumpin’ , a funk
rock jam with jazzy horns and a tight break, showcasing the guitar solo.
It drops into a solid bass solo from Kevin Light, and ends with a nice bit
of chaos. I really like the structure of this song, which shows another
side of LFD’s arsenal.
The sing-along track, Cold, is my favorite on the disc: an
Allman-esque feel good song that just makes you smile when lamenting the
winter weather. Bird Song (not the Grateful Dead song), is a light,
airy tune that once again showcases Sansom’s excellent vocals and
Montgomery’s energetic slide. A lesson in old west karma comes with Owens’
rootsy story Pseudo Gold.
I’m sold on Left Foot Down can’t wait to see them live. I think the vast
majority of people who pick this up will find several songs they can tap or
sing along to. I recommend you have it in rotation while you’re
road-tripping down a long stretch of country highway. They have created a
fine piece of work here that captures the energy and regional influences
without compromising quality or being derivative —this is definitely a band
to watch over the next couple years. Left Foot Down may solidify
Tennessee’s place in the jamband world.