Black Magic, the new album from Wisconsin-born, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter and guitarist, Jared James Nichols, is released by Listenable Records on Friday 27th October on CD, vinyl and digital download. The 10 track album also features the current single “Last Chance”.
Black Magic is the follow up to Jared’s 2015 debut album “Old Glory & The Wild Revival”.
Over the past few years, Jared James Nichols has been building a solid reputation for himself and his sound as one of the best heavy edged blues and rock guitarists of his generation and his stage presence is becoming just as highly regarded as his technical abilities on guitar. One look at the performers that Jared has shared a stage with speaks volumes about his current status - ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Zaak Wylde, Glenn Hughes, Walter Trout, Blue Oyster Cult, UFO and Saxon are all on the list. To be on the stage with any one of these names, you have to be at the very top of your game.
How you perceive this new album from Jared I think depends to a great extent on your age. If you are lucky enough to be young enough and hearing these sounds for the first time, then there is that hard cutting edge sound to the music that you will probably play over and over in your room with the volume to your speakers turned up to maximum. If you are more than a little bit older, then it is like revisiting your youth, but somehow sharp and new and not like putting your favourite old vinyl record on the turntable.
Normally I don’t use much PR content in reviews, but Jared himself wrote some PR notes for every track on this album which pretty much says everything about the music on this album far better than I ever could, so over to you Jared James Nichols.
ALBUM TRACK BY TRACK BY JARED JAMES NICHOLS
1. Last Chance (2:48)
This opening track is a total barn burnin' ass-kicker. I wanted to start the record with a BANG! It's a massive riff, urgent and almost 'falling off the rails' frantic. It was important for me to set the bar high from the first song. We have started opening our live show with this one. Lean and mean all the way!
2. The Gun (3:22)
This was the first song I wrote for this record. Originally, I was feeling a delta-blues acoustic style tune. For some reason, I couldn't stop playing this song with distorted electric guitar and the full band. I love the way the slide riff, groove, and vocals interact. Lyrically it's deep rooted in the delta form. It's my interpretation of blues, for 2017.
3. Don't Be Scared (3:27)
This is hands down my favourite song to play live! The riff is so damn heavy and mean. Often times, I'll bring a riff to the guys and we will just jam it out to see where it goes. This particular song came just from that. We sat in the room and riffed out for a few hours, the song basically wrote itself. Side note, it was fun to play a 'talk-box' on record for the first time EVER!
4. Honey Forgive Me (2:22)
SO FUNKY!! We had a blast with this one. I've always loved the funkier STAX/SOUL of the '70's. Growing up I was heavily influenced by Albert King, Booker T, and Steve Cropper. This one hits it home for me. I wanted to make sure to cover a ton of different ground on the record. It's fun to explore many different musical avenues. My favourite female vocalist Jessica Childress added a ton of dimension for this tune with her backup vocals as well.
5. Home (2:57)
It's no secret that I'm a massive fan of southern rock. When I wrote this tune I was under the Lynyrd Skynyrd/Allman Brothers spell! This one oozes the Americana vibe I grew up with and love so much. As with the rest of the record, it's all about the simplicity, classic, and timeless vibe. Lyrically it's about something we can all relate to, HOME. It's one of the only special places on the planet we each carry near and dear to our heart.
6. Got To Have You (2:50)
This track started as a simple blues shuffle; my first true love. I grew up playing blues in Chicago and the Midwest. I always dig songs that use a common blues-shuffle formula, but present the form in a different light. This track really came to be when we got into the studio. Music always feels more real to me when there are no limits or borders. We just had fun with this one and let the tapes roll.
7. End Of Time (2:46)
Originally, this one was written for a two-piece vibe of guitar and drums. When we recorded it, we tried to keep the simplicity at the forefront. It's raw and direct. It's about change, in people and in times. On a production side, it hits hard. Tony was able to push the limits on the gear, and you can hear it. We could even smell the tubes in the amplifiers burning from being pushed to the limit!!
8. Run (2:54)
This one is an absolute slow burn. Lyrically it's about getting caught up in a situation, and losing perspective of what's real. It's easy to lose sight of what's important during the daily grind. It has a heavy Bad Company attitude and swagger to it.
9. Keep Your Light on Mama (2:54)
This song was written to be played live! It's all about the attitude. It's raw, intense, and straight to the point. I wanted a 'call and response' type feel with this track. It's almost like the vocal and main riff grooves bounce of each other. This is the blues/rock I know and love. It is deeply rooted in the '70's vein of Nazareth, Montrose, and Mountain.
10. What Love (2:51)
This song turned out really special. Believe it or not, this is the 'only take demo version'!! Tony had and old Gibson hollow body that had a low bass string. This allowed so you could play the rhythm groove and lead at the same time. I had an 'idea' for this kinda old school blues boogie/rhumba. I told Tony just to roll the tape and I would sing and play the idea down. It turned out so cool and vibey, that we actually kept it! We ended up adding drums and percussion later on. As with the whole record, it's honest and real. We left in all the bumps and bruises, concerned more with the feel and fire, than being technically perfect.
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Review by Tom King