On this, his tenth album, blues artist and harp maestro John Németh has put together a varied package of ten originals and two carefully chosen covers. It was recorded live in the studio with the band in the same room (pre-Covid, so no rules are broken) and with the kind of valve driven sound I love. If you haven’t come across him before, his previous work is well worth searching out as he never restricts himself to one clear genre and, as his tenor voice lends itself to the soulful as well as the blues, and his harp work is always a joy.
John’s current band is also finely tuned to the needs of every song and turn in an excellent performance across the album…just listen behind the melodies to the fine bass and drum work of Matt Wilson and Danny Banks, and marvel at the emotion that is wrung out of every note by guitarist Jon Hay…add in John’s voice and harp and there is nothing to disappoint.
Opening with a fabulous slide and harp, Come And Take It, may be archetypal hill country blues but, with six strings and the added harp this is how it would have sounded way back…that’s a compliment by the way. Fountain Of A Man follows that pattern but has the added power of a great vocal melody and fierce harp with the ever present delightful guitar phrasing backed with the train track snare. The harp solo is great too and we finally get to hear Jon unleashed…brilliantly.
Sometimes is the first cover and is a lesser-known, 1958 Little Junior Parker song. An interesting take on this r’n’b/soul song: the tasty harp work and mesmeric guitar backing make this an undiscovered/rediscovered gem. Throw Me In The Water is rock ’n’ roll reborn and, once again, everyone plays a blinder and the guitar solo takes some clever cues from the 50s and 60s and blends them in a new and superb way. Chain Breaker moves us to Chicago and the shuffle supplied is reminiscent of the great Hubert Sumlin in the feel and emotion.
Bars is a soulful blues with a hint of jazz in the smooth guitar chord work; the bass is sheers class and do listen to the lyrics as, with piercing humour, John supplies a treatise on this world’s ills. The slide/picked solo is majestic and should have lasted for another hour! I Can See Your Love Light Shine shifts to a gospel-tinged song but with a reggae lilt…strange but true. Classy solos from John and Jon with great walking bass and snare backing make this better every time I listen. Deprivin’ a Love is a mid-paced infectious song that preserves a historical tone but reimagined for today. The harp and guitar again share the spoils to make a good song great.
Work For Love is classic in waiting blues-rock of the kind Cream were so good at. A bit Spoonful but all quality…and I’m getting repetitive but listen to every instrument as this band mesh beautifully on what has become a much-repeated song in this domicile. Guess Who is the second cover from the fairly faithful reading of Jesse Belvin’s Guess Who; a slow and smoochy ballad with more great instrumentation and a guitar solo that weeps as much as the lyrics. She’s My Punisher is pure R’n’B of the old school: a perfect capture of the genre with bang up to date playing and a short harp solo to savour…plus a couple of lyrical lines that wouldn’t have been allowed back then; just listen carefully!
The final track, Sweep The Shack has so many lyrical and guitar references to blues of yore that it needs close listening to appreciate its complexity and integrity. Jon also puts in the perfectly paced and phrased blues solo the song demanded.
A simply ingenious evocation of many blues related genres provided by a voice of warmth and understanding and a band that are just right on every note. Give it a listen for its diversity, wit, and outstanding musicianship.
Bluesdoodles rating: A Wonderful album that celebrates all that is good in the modern genre…even it is looking backwards!
1. Come And Take It
2. Fountain Of A Man
4. Throw Me In The Water
5. Chain Breaker
7. I Can See Your Love Light Shine
8. Deprivin’ a Love
9. Work For Love
10. Guess Who
11. She’s My Punisher
12. Sweep The Shack
John Németh: vocals, harmonica
Jon Hay: guitars
Matt Wilson: bass
Danny Banks: drums
Recorded at Electraphonic Recording Studios