This is the debut solo album from New England songwriter James Keyes. Ruminations is fifteen rough hewn tracks recorded in the basement of an old brothel in Douglas, MA where Babe Ruth used to get his bootleg liquor.
James Keyes is a singer songwriter… but who isn’t? Principally opposed to the hippie coffee house jangle “folk” singing self righteous NPR crowd, Keyes’ music draws more from the Howlin’ Wolf and Woody Guthrie side of the tracks as opposed to the Joni Mitchell and Pete Seeger types.
Often compared to Waits and Cash, Keyes simply tries to make raw honest music with a minimal amount of bullshit.
Ruminations is a dark jagged ride through the backwoods, stonewalls and salt water spray that’s in the blood of all stalwart New Englanders. Over the course of the disc, this album covers a large swath of American music. The opener, "Hardliner" gives a northern twist to the bluegrass lyrical tradition of getting back home while the bluesy stomp of "Black Ceiling" recalls all the places that the singer has called home for a time.
Other songs evoke a blue collar working class ethos like the gruff "Work Song" and the wistful lament of friends going down the drain in the growling, dobro tinged "You Got Nothing". The spooky "Dream Endless" could equally be about the end of the night or the end of the world while the touching "Goodbye" simply recalls the ache of having to leave a lover in the morning.
All in all this collection of songs creates a swarming, churning, stripped down version of folk suited for people who like their music with all the grit and rust still caked on it.