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'To the Earth,' by James Keyes.

James Keyes hasn't been idle this winter, as evidenced by the five new demo tracks posted to his Reverbnation page. But while all of them are good, there's one song that's just keeps calling out to be listened to over and over: "To the Earth,'' a hard-grinding steam engine of a song that well-captures Keyes' particular brand of heavy blues.

Each lyric is distinctive, and each comes down hard as hail on the listener, isolated and delivered with bite and force.

"Petals blow off in the autumn wind,'' sings Keyes, "Seek truth, the light of day/While prima donna pettifoggers take it away/Clear the path, lose the trail/Never gonna learn if you're never gonna fail.''

There's something that happens when Keyes imbues a song with poetic menace and intensity. It takes on a sort of solidity, a sort sonic thickness that makes each note palpable. That intensity is here, and it energizes the whole song.

In all honesty, all five of the demos posted to Reverbnation show off a great deal of Keyes' skill and musical range, from the simmering "The Apple'' to the rock-infused "Distilled,'' and one of the songs, "Gone Circadian,'' has appeared in the Telegram's Pop Culture Notebook before. Still, "To the Earth'' is the one that seems to fit the season the best: It's absolutely perfect for thrashing out the cabin fever that's come from being so pent up lately. If this is just a demo, the finished product is anticipation-worthy.

We can't embed the song on, because of language concerns, but you can listen to all five demos at

Email Victor D. Infante at and follow him on Twitter @ocvictor.

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Title Annotation:Living
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Feb 22, 2015
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