Review by Gary Spiller for MPM
With the devil riding shotgun firebrand six-stringer Jared James Nichols blazes into town. The guitarist’s companion clutches, in his right hand, the contract, all the relevant dotted and crossed.
His other hand sweeps his crushed purple velveteen cloak about him as he exits the dusty, smoking muscle car. The deal has been struck, this the latest to follow the likes of Robert Johnson. A dozen specified elements, the proverbial loaded double-barrelled deliverance.
High above, driven to nocturnality, the raven dances with the lunar forces. Feathers glisten in the fullness of the moonlight as its conspiracy is sought. Ascending circles about Hellfire Pinnacle, the mountain of fire, its obsidian-like eyes espy an upturn in igneous activity. Concomitant to the aforementioned duo’s arrival so molten rock threatens to erupt forth from the underworld.
Thus Nashville-based Jared James Nichols is due to release, some five years after his sophomore recording, his third studio long-player. Announced back in mid-November Nichols’ eponymous release features latest single ‘Down The Drain’ and the opening salvo of intention ‘Hard Wired.’ Multi-faceted the spotlight illuminates the many aspects that combine to comprise Nichols.
Upon announcing his latest release Nichols commented “I made a record to serve as the menu for the live show. There’s an element of excitement and danger. It’s my version of rock ‘n’ roll with a little more humanity.” Before adding “The album is a day in the life with the ups and downs, but it musically rings true to who I am as an artist. I’m not trying to be anybody but myself and play the music I love for today. I’m giving you loud ass guitars and no fucks given rock ‘n’ roll, and I’m loving it.
Wisconsin-born Nichols pulls the trigger with ‘My Delusion’ the very first despatch emitted from within. The hard rocking blues cascade over the precipice defying gravity itself with a full-blooded tone that exploits a god-like strength. This is a guaranteed one-way ticket to the depths of Nichols’ soul; the fires burn coruscating scintillating hues. It’s a fine opening of the front door; one which satiates the earnest of blues-driven appetite whilst simultaneously whetting speculative processes.
There’s no holding back as the dam bursts. Moon high, darkened skies it’s ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ as Nichols trades high stakes. Howling and screeching ‘Old Glory,’ his trademark single-pickup Epiphone Les Paul, sparks unrestrainedly. The signed document is grasped tightly within a leathery grip, a deal is precisely that.
Grungey undertones provide definition for latest single ‘Down The Drain’ another balls-out foot to the floor sub four-minute rocker. Bad ass to the very core. Released a few months prior to the announcement of this offering ‘Hard Wired’ blazed a trail for what is to come. Components of Hendrix and Cream are thrown into an amalgam of distortion and turmoil. Delivered forth from a jam session with Tyler Bryant and Graham Whitford this conflagrant track relates the inescapable confines of a poisonous partnering in such a way that no uncertainty remains.
The V8 is revved into the red with ‘Bad Roots’; smouldering tyres and flaming exhaust this is ZZ Top going blow for blow with Black Sabbath out in the heart of the Mojave. Approaching the halfway marker Nichols plays an ace card with the heavy, blues-drenched vibrancies of ‘Skin n’ Bone.’ Such is the ferocity of Nichols’ fretwork it’s with wonderment that ‘Old Glory’ doesn’t ignite.
The untamed, feral passions of Nichols are unshackled in ‘Long Way To Go.’ A drifter, seeking avoidance he roars “Devil in the back of my mind” as the highway is pounded, stretching out afront and, at once, tailing off in the rear-view mirror. Limits gloriously unadhered.
There’s a tumultuous psych-fringe to ‘Shadow Dancer’ that ebbs and flows as the tide. Broiling with explosive grunge intensities the crucible spills over into an ethereal, precise solo. Devilment afoot, footprints in the sand. As granular as the desert sands ‘Good Time Girl’ sidewinds into your conscious with a swaggering groove-laden delivery that will have all spellbind all that fall prey to its siren-like charms.
Sabbath and Saxon collide at the intersection within ‘Hallelujah’ to good effect. Clocking in at just over three minutes Nichols lets fly in dramatic fashion before regrouping at the lectern for the blues-drenched ‘Saint or Fool.’ “Gonna drown in holy water, where I feel no pain” vows Nichols before carving out as fine a six-string sermon as you’re likely to hear in ’23.
This accomplished offering closes with the emotive ‘Out of Time.’ Nichols’ heartfelt tribute to his late father. A befittingly understated number that is a monument in time. Thus, at track end, the listener is left out of time in a beautiful symmetry. Left to cast thought upon a truly defining album that will long stand the very test of time.
Amazing to digest but these sessions occurred just months after Nichols had suffered a broken arm. Surgery for which left the guitarist with a plate and 16 screws in his right arm and the tangible possibility of never playing again. Mercifully with extreme hard graft and effort Nichols overcame and with the production skills of Eddie Spear (Slash, Rival Sons) recorded the dozen mercurial tracks herein live.
Jared James Nichols Track Listing
1. My Delusion
2. Easy Come, Easy Go
3. Down The Drain
4. Hard Wired
5. Bad Roots
6. Skin ‘n Bone
7. Long Way to Go
8. Shadow Dancer
9. Good Time Girl
11. Saint or Fool
12. Out Of Time
DUE OUT JANUARY 13TH VIA BLACK HILL RECORDS
Photo Credit: © David McClister