If you’re a movie buff with a really extraordinary memory, perhaps you remember seeing Jason D. Williams’ hands in close-ups from the film Great Balls of Fire! about piano pounder Jerry Lee Lewis. Jason can indeed replicate the rock ’n’ roll legend’s wild-man antics on the ivories, and he’s enjoyed a modest career largely due to his Jerry Lee-like showmanship. Killer Instincts demonstrates those similarities but also sets out to emphasize the musician’s lesser-known side.
Jason makes his songwriting debut here with oddball ditties created spontaneously in the studio. While they highlight his piano skills and his offbeat (and sometimes off-color) sense of humor, Jason’s originals often play more like novelty outtakes than legitimate attempts to make music meant for repeated listens. Still, the rollicking gospel stomper “Sanctified” and the emotional clout of the mournful and vulnerable “Crippled Down” suggest that Jason D. has the ability to create an album worth more than a cheap chuckle. On much of Killer Instincts, though, such potential is nearly choked to death.