Word of the skills of blues rock guitarist Jared James Nichols has slowly spread since he burst on the scene in 2015 with his debut album Old Glory & The Wild Revival, and after plenty of live shows supporting ZZ Top, Glenn Hughes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, UFO, Zakk Wylde, Blue Oyster Cult, and many others, he's quickly becoming the next 'must see' guitarist on the scene. That's likely to escalate with the release of his sophomore album Black Magic, out October 27th on Listenable Records, a 10 track, roughly 30 minute affair of hard rock & blues that is sure to click with those already following him as well as many new listeners.
Plenty of instantly catchy, bluesy rockers here, and with practically every song sitting right at the 3-minute mark, nothing overstays its welcome one bit. "Last Chance" kicks things off in fine fashion, a blistering hard rocker complete with nasty riffs, some scorching lead work, and a venomous vocal from Nichols. The guitarist unleashes his slide for the Southern Rock vibe of "The Gun", while "Don't Be Scared" has a darker, doomier vibe that's not unlike vintage Alice in Chains and features some booming bass and talk box guitar effects. Vintage '70s funk appears on the upbeat "Honey Forgive Me", with some wonderful female backing vocals perfectly complementing Nichols emotional singing, and the slide guitar once again comes out on the Black Crowes/Lynyrd Skynyrd/Allman Brothers Band inspired "Home". The upbeat blues rocker "Got to Have You" follows, a decent enough tune but certainly one of the weaker ones here, but it's quickly forgotten by the time the heavy "End of Time" begins, a snarling behemoth with a killer riff and confident vocal, Nichols unleashing a scalding solo on his Les Paul that is just dripping with fire and attitude. "Run" reminds of Rival Sons a bit with a bit of Free thrown in for good measure, while more monster blues rock riffing in the spirit of vintage Mountain, ZZ Top, or Nazareth is unloaded on the listener with "Keep Your Light on Mama". For the album closer "What Love", Nichols and the band go for an old school, Delta blues vibe, and it has a real raw vibe with another great vocal, and nice way to end this brief yet very enjoyable album.
The one thing I do want to point out, is that Jared James Nichols doesn't overindulge one bit on Black Magic. Though he more than shows his talents, this is an album of 'songs' and he doesn't use them as a platform for endless guitar pyrotechnics. Kudos also to his bandmates Dennis Holm (drums) and Erik Sandim (bass) who deliver very solid performances as well. Overall a very strong album from a guitarist & trio that we are sure to hear a lot from in the months and years to come.
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1. Last Chance
2. The Gun
3. Don't Be Scared
4. Honey Forgive Me
6. Got To Have You
7. End Of Time
9. Keep Your Light on Mama
10. What Love