On 3rd March 2017, the steadily rising troubadour Jeb Loy Nichols presents his classic-in-the-making new album ‘Country Hustle’, via on his own label City Country City. To celebrate, he has put together a Spotify playlist fo FRUK featuring some of his favourite folk songs. Check out Folk Hustle below:
‘Country Hustle’ is a potent, flavoursome gumbo cooked up from southern soul, country, blues, funk and folk, with a soupçon of hip hop, dub and 80/90s club sounds. It’s schooled in the past but is resolutely modern in production, featuring collaborations from DJ Shadow, Andrew Hale, Distance and Nostalgia 77.
The laid back, late night soul of album opener ‘Regret’ sets the tone for Jeb’s autobiographical, self-deprecating and honest lyric style. The dark and smokey ‘Come See Me’ conjures the spirit of Dr John’s ‘I Walk On Gilded Splinters’ and Bohannon’s ‘Save Their Souls’, whilst on ‘Katie Blue’ Jeb channels James Brown and Massive Attack into how own unique, forlorn ode.
Balearic boogie blends with Funkadelia and subtle dub flourishes on Jeb’s personal but universal tribute ‘Long Live The Loser’ and on ‘Maisy Hay’ Nichols’ love for Tony Joe White shines through.
His take on Luther Vandross’ ‘Never Too Much’ takes on spiritual pathos and warming charm, with deep fathoms of emotion also apparent on the American gothic meets metallic clang of ‘That’s All I Want’.
‘That’s How We’re Living’ is gritty, smokin’ funk akin to Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye, delivered with heavy new sonic clout and a hip-hop sensibility. Live favourite ‘Till The Teardrops Stop’ is a happy/sad ode to dancing, friendship and drowning sorrows. Equally tear-jerking is the country got soul style ‘You Got In’.
Jeb originally hails from Missouri and has lived in Texas, New York and London. He has a fascinating, Zelig-like story, all of which feeds into his authentic, experience-infused music. He caught an original Sex Pistols show in Texas, danced to Larry Levan at the Paradise Garage and witnessed Bambaataa rock Bronx blocks.
He worked in New York’s Record City, selling obscure James Brown singles to Prince Paul, and Fela Kuti vinyl to Brian Eno and David Byrne – just before they recorded ‘Remain In Light’.
In London, he shared a house with Ari Up from The Slits and Neneh Cherry, and forged a bond with Adrian Sherwood amidst the earth shaking riddims of Jah Shaka’s sound system.
With such a rich and varied musical schooling, it’s unsurprising that, as Uncut explains, “Nichols has made an art of assembling various musical modes and merrily fashioning his own hybrids”, which Record Collector observes have “a unified aesthetic rather than an engineered synthesis.”
This joining-of-the-dots between genres seemingly unrelated to the casual novice has won Jeb high regard from clued up heads but has also contributed to his occupying a nebulous space within pigeonhole happy, popular music. He has steadfastly ploughed his own furrow, navigating a route around mainstream recognition, at times over rocky terrain.
You may have heard Jeb’s music on the Oscar-nominated soundtrack to Gus Van Sant’s ‘Good Will Hunting’. Back then, in the Nineties, he was signed to Capitol Records by Gary Gersch – the man who signed Nirvana and Guns N Roses. Somewhat notoriously he shunned a life on the road (the approach that was viewed by Capitol as the sole path to success in America) and was subsequently dropped.
But despite a long, sporadic gestation period during which at times Jeb has pursued other interests like writing and art, “Country Hustle” marks the next phase as his most focused, ramped-up and viable shot at recognition to date.
Following choice prior achievements like a Rough Trade Album Of The Month for ‘Jeb Loy Nichols Special’, live work with Lucinda Williams and Lambchop, plus his acclaimed ‘Country Got Soul’ compilations, the release earlier this year of his mini album ‘Ya Smell Me’ (alongside the reissue of reggae gem ‘Long Time Traveller’ via On-U Sound) saw Jeb gain widespread acclaim, marking the beginning of what promises to be a new peak for the artist.
Country Hustle is out on 3rd March 2017 via City Country City
Pre-Order Country Hustle here: jebloynichols.co.uk/buy/country-hustle-0