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Love Me Tonight

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Album Review

Blues and soul musicians noted for their harmonica skills usually aren't top-notch vocalists or songwriters. There are a few exceptions, of course; Little Walter and the Fabulous Thunderbirds' Kim Wilson come to mind, but generally those who put hours into learning the blues harp don't spend as much effort perfecting their singing skills. That's what makes John Nemeth so special. He's a terrific player, blowing hard and heavy while punctuating the tracks with throbbing solos. But he's primarily a soulful vocalist, slinging out his emotional voice like a young Howard Tate. Blues veterans from Bob Margolin and Anson Funderburgh, the latter whose band he joined for a while after the death of Sam Myers, to Elvin Bishop (who appears on two cuts here), have lauded his skills, and Nemeth's sophomore release for Blind Pig shows that his impressive 2007 label debut was no fluke. He has gained confidence in his singing, and his presence is unusual for a relative newcomer. Better still, his songwriting has also advanced a few notches, with the gospel laced "Fuel for the Fire" a ringer for a great old Southern soul track. It's not though. The tune is one of ten newly penned songs that seem so authentic to the southern '60s R&B/blues genre you'll be shocked to find Nemeth's name as sole composer. There's only one cover, a raging take on the Falcons' "She's My Heart's Desire" which is faithful right down to a guitar solo straight out of the late Robert Ward's arsenal, that gives the original a powerful contemporary spin. A few selections, such as "Too Good to Be True" punch out singalong choruses with pop hooks in under three minutes that would have been natural for '60s radio. Others, such as the swamp stomping "Daughter of the Devil," which seems like a lost Howlin' Wolf B-side, take a little more time to build tension, but still pack a sizeable wallop in about four minutes. Nemeth never sounds less than committed to this material and often pushes the performances into the red zone with assistance from a sturdy backing quartet. Whether he's singing or working the harp, Nemeth is one of the finest young additions to the soul-blues scene. He's a spiritual offspring of Curtis Salgado who treads similar territory, but his future is assured if he keeps releasing albums as powerful and consistent as this.

Biography

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Born in 1976 in Idaho, John Németh grew up in Boise, where his first exposure to music was singing in the Catholic Church. He branched out from there, though, and was playing in local bands as a teenager. He was 17 when a friend, Tom Moore, exposed him to the blues, and together they formed Fat John & the 3 Slims, which is still regarded as a legendary band in the Boise region. Németh began playing with the Junior Watson Band in 2002 as well as gigging with his own band, the Jacks. A vocalist...
Full bio
Love Me Tonight, John Németh
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