Jared James Nichols’ new album “Black Magic” is the follow up to his 2015 debut “Old Glory & The Wild Revival.” Over the past 4 years Jared has built on his solid reputation as a stunning guitarist, having shared stages with the likes of ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Glenn Hughes, and UFO, to name a few. On tour in Germany, Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington was so impressed, he invited Jared on stage to play lead during “Sweet Home Alabama,”, something they had never done before.
The album starts with the lead single “Last Chance”, described by Jared as the hardest hitting song he has ever written. The riff is huge on this one, with enough distortion to keep everyone happy. The chorus is really catchy and gets you singing along. With a definite blues base “The Gun” brings to mind the Mississippi, with its swampy vibe, rich in blues and with a delta influence. “Don’t Be Scared” is radio-ready, with the gravelly vocal adding an layer of moodiness to this mesmerising track. Mean and moody with snarly, searing tones, this is one of my favourite tracks on the album.
By contrast “Honey Forgive Me” is much lighter, getting your toes tapping from the very start. Packed with funk and groove, the breathy, distorted vocals are perfectly complimented from behind by Jessica Childress. This is another knockout track, inspired by likes of of Albert King, Booker T, and Steve Cropper throughout Jared’s formative years. “Home” also draws on its Southern Rock influences. Home. “It’s one of the only special places on the planet we each carry near and dear to our heart.” This song has a personality of its own, from the mastery of the drumming, the bass has funk, and the intricacy of Jared’s stunning playing. This one has been replayed a lot, hearing something new each time. “Got To Have You” uplifting and very catchy, with its shimmering riffs. “End Of Time” is a more emotional, visceral track. Surly bass and thumping drums add to the energy, fierce and feisty. Jared’s severe, aggressive guitar tones make this a really moving track.
“Run” is filled with swagger. From the clipped tones from the guitars and the repeated vocal lines, it brings to mind a vortex of confusion that you can’t get out of, where your mind takes over. “Keep Your Lights On Mama” shows the diversity of the band; fresh and intense, rich and vivid. The conversation between guitar and bass is poignant, with echoes of the 1970s abound. “What Love” is up front and personal, and packed with charm. This is the “only take demo version”. You feel like you are in the studio as the tape rolls.
Jared James Nichols knows how to use his guitar to maximum effect, that has never really been in doubt, but it is reinforced by this album, with him superbly supported by Dennis Holm (drums), Erik Sandin (bass), and Jessica Childress (backing vocals).
“Black Magic” is released on 27th October 2017 and is available on CD, Vinyl, and Download. More details online.
Review: Samantha Lamb
Live Images: Rob Wilkins