John Nemeth,
Name the Day
(Blind Pig, 2010)

When you pop John Nemeth's Name the Day into your CD player, the opening band chords are likely to make you think you've slipped in a Solomon Burke disc by mistake. A strong horn-driven Memphis and Muscle Shoals-type soul band accompanies Nemeth on this disc, and their playing moves like a NASCAR driver in the midst of a record-setting lap. Nemeth's voice fits into the mix perfectly, the tires on the car, and when he goes into the harp solo, you know you've come home.

Here's the deal: Nemeth has got it all. Back in the 1960s and '70s, he would have been a major mainstream star on the order of Otis Redding, Little Milton or Ray Charles. On "Tuff Girl," he even shows a little '50s touch and pulls it off without sinking into sentimentality.

Most of the CD is up-tempo, but when Nemeth bites into a ballad, as on "I Said Too Much," he wrings it for maximum sadness. The man's at home with all of the forms of blues and soul music but he's not a retro artist. What Nemeth does so well is to bring a modern twist to traditional forms, showing us exactly how much really important stuff is in the music.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

11 September 2010

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