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Jared James Nichols - Black Magic album review

Hard-gigging blues rocker overdoes the rock

Cover art for Jared James Nichols - Black Magic album

Although steeped in blues traditions, Jared James Nichols plays guitar like a new-improved Ted Nugent (i.e. without the Neanderthal politics). For his three-piece’s second full-length album JJ has gone even wilder than on his 2015 debut Old Glory And The Wild Revival. But, disappointingly, in eschewing the nuance and variety of that first album, this one sounds less satisfying.

Over the 10 tracks, he sings well and does ring the changes – most noticeably on the Staxy funk of Honey Forgive Me and the stripped-back swampy blues of final track What Love – but around half of the three-minute blasts here are little more than riffs and solos in search of a memorable tune, and sometimes also even a decent ending.

When he’s good, as on opener Last Chance (an absolute blast, with an insane hammer-on solo) or the toothache-mean Don’t Be Scared, he’s very, very good. But little else on this album holds a candle to those two.