Album Reviews

John Nemeth

Feelin’ Freaky

Artist:     John Nemeth

Album:     Feelin’ Freaky

Label:     Memphis Grease

Release Date:     05.19.2017

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Timing John Nemeth’s new release around the Blues Music Awards was a smart move. The nominee of the coveted B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award is certainly hot right now. The singer-songwriter/harmonicist has steadily grown his career, beginning as a Bay Area blues artist (originally hailing from Idaho), but, his move to Memphis has accelerated his career to the point where he is one of the most in-demand blues acts. Though he didn’t take home the prize in 2017, Nemeth won the BMA in 2014 for Soul Blues Artist of the Year and then again in 2015 for Soul Blues Album of the Year, Memphis Grease with the Bo Keys. He then put together his own touring band, the Blue Dreamers, in Memphis, and formed his own label. Nemeth continues to take his career to the next level with this recording, laid down with his touring band and produced by Luther Dickinson.

Nemeth has always been a strong songwriter, and performer with magnetic stage presence. Now he’s intent on breaking some barriers and contemporizing his music rather than settle into the retro artist camp. Put the rather tacky cover (a Kool-Aid pickle) aside for a minute, there’s plenty of both substance fun, and humor on the disc itself. Nemeth often mashes up the styles in his comfort zone, blues and R&B, with hip hop, rock n’ roll, and danceable tunes. Amidst that are themes about gun violence (“Under the Gun”), marijuana (“S.T.O.N.E.D.”), loss of a loved one (“Long Black Cadillac”), the pure joy of dancing (the title track, “Get Offa That Butt,” and “I’m Funkin’ Out”), and nasty funk (“You Really Do Want That Woman,” some of which feature some rather unhinged harp blowing. Fans looking for the more familiar, vintage Nemeth will enjoy “Rainy Day,” “My Sweet Love,” and “Gave Up on You.”

Also, be assured there’s plenty of horn driven material here too, as Marc Franklin and Art Edmaiston of the Bo Keys, along with Memphis keyboard legend Charles Hodges, join in. The album was recorded at Dickinson’s Zebra Ranch and at the famed Royal Studios in Memphis where The Royal String Section contributed on a couple of tracks.

You won’t be able to sit still listening to this. Thankfully Nemeth is a tireless road warrior so you should have ample opportunity to hear these new songs live.

—Jim Hynes

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