On â€œLike Jerry Lee,â€ the opening track to Jason D. Williamsâ€™ new album Killer Instincts, he deals right off the bat with the uncanny similarity â€” in look, ability and style â€” between the singer and rock â€™nâ€™ roll icon Jerry Lee Lewis: specifically, whether he may be the Killerâ€™s next-of-kin. â€œI coulda found out once but I didnâ€™t,â€ sings Williams, blasting out piano riffs so potent you can practically feel his fingers bleeding. â€œI figured either way it would be more than I could stand.â€
Apparently thereâ€™s a back story between Lewis and Williams, a 51-year-old Memphis boogie-woogie piano marvel â€” something about a DNA test whose results was never revealed â€” but as Williams hints at on â€œLike Jerry Lee,â€ whether thereâ€™s a blood connection or not doesnâ€™t really matter. When it comes to piano chops, a clear belief in the power and the glory of rock â€™nâ€™ roll, and unadulterated audacity, they are blood brothers in the best sense of the word.
Killer Instincts is Williamsâ€™ first album of original material, and it merges a 1950s style with a touch of new millennia edginess, and no small amount of humor. â€œYou Look Like I Could Use a Drink,â€ a raucous rave-up, provides the best country catchphrase in years, and the breezy â€œMr. Jesusâ€ somehow manages to be cheeky and reverent at the same time: â€œI didnâ€™t nail you there, but I love your hair,â€ sings Williams, and you get the sense he means it.
A few of the songs go off the tracks lyrically â€” he admits in the liner notes that the words to â€œIf You Ever Saw a Baby With Its Pud,â€ about baby buggies and JFKâ€™s death, were basically made up as he went along. But Williams more than makes up for it, on rollicking tracks like â€œWine So-Dee-O-Deeâ€ and â€œReally Really Pretty,â€ with a joyous musical drive that makes what passes for rock these days seem timid by comparison.
In fact, â€œSanctified,â€ a nod to Elvisâ€™ gospel period, may represent the most uplifting moment on a record this year â€” not bad for an album that will crack you up as often as it (to use a Williams-ism) blows your gosh-dang mind.
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