Stronger Than Strong
Nola Blue Records
The Boise, Idaho born John Nemeth was a rock fan until a friend turned him on to Junior Wells’ classic “Hoodoo Man Blues”. He joined a local blues band and would sing and play harp often opening for national touring acts. He released his own debut album “The Jack of Harps” in 2002. He has since recorded with Junior Watson, Anson Funderburgh, Kid Anderson, and Elvin Bishop. In 2013 Nemeth relocated to Memphis. Overall Nemeth has twenty Blues Music Award nominations including five for “B.B. King Entertainer of the Year”. In 2014 Nemeth released “Memphis Grease” recorded with members of The Bo-Keys, and won his first BMA for “Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year”. Nemeth won a second BMA as the album was named 2015’s “Best Soul Blues Album”.
Nemeth released 2017’s “Feelin’ Freaky” with his touring band “The Blue Dreamers”. The album received high praise “Nemeth fearlessly crushes all barriers of style and genre with an album of original songs that defies all the usual pigeonholes”. Later in the year, Nemeth was part of a side project recreating some of the early blues classics and fronted the ten-piece “Love Light Orchestra”.
In December of 2019 Nemeth returned to the studio with “The Blue Dreamers” to record his tenth solo album. The current lineup is Nemeth, harp and vocals; Matthew Wilson, bass, guitar and backing vocals; Danny Banks, drums and backing vocals; and the newest member John Hay, guitar and backing vocals. Tracking Engineer Adam Hill adds some tambourine; while the mixing was completed by Scott Bomar.
The twelve track set recorded “live off the floor” includes ten new Nemeth originals and two selected covers. Nemeth opens with his harp and high tenor on the Hill Country styled “Come and Take It” with phrasing reminiscent of John Lee Hooker. The gospel influenced “Throw Me in The Water” is a hard drivin’ rocker with a great solo from Hay. “I Can See Your Love Light Shine” is a ska-styled bit of revivalism. On “Deprivin’ A Love” Nemeth sings “I think you are beautiful, you think I am crazy…deprivin’ a love is a doggone shame, tell me honey do you feel the same”. “Work for Love” contains the lyric “Something smells funky, and I know your doin’ me wrong, I work for love, I work for you”, and he completes the production with a high reedy harp solo. “She’s My Punisher” is a fun song as Nemeth sings “She’s got a prisoner…I’m comin’ home for more” with some great rhythm guitar. “Sweep The Shack” is another joyful song “I got to sweep the shack and get back, get back to lovin’ you”.
Three songs are more topical with lyrics that will make you ask yourself “did I hear that correctly?”. “Fountain of A Man” features the band’s relentless drive spearheaded by drummer Banks, and Hay’s lead guitar, as Nemeth sings “the fountain of a man is the top of his head…the fountain of a man is something he said”. The Chicago styled shuffle “Chain Breaker”, co-written by Nemeth with his wife and bassist Wilson, features the lyric “stick to your singin’ Johnny and you’ll be ok, Chain Breaker blues can’t get through to you, my love is on the other side and I know what the hell to do”. On “Bars” Nemeth sings “there is a leader with a hand up your dress, bars on the window to keep us safe, bars on the corner to help us erase”.
The two specially selected covers include a slowed down interpretation of “Sometimes”, although credited to Don Robey the song was recorded by Little Junior Parker in 1958. The other is “Guess Who” a beautiful ballad first written and recorded by soul singer Jesse Belvin in 1959; unfortunately, Belvin and his wife were killed in an auto accident later that same year. These are wonderful versions of two classic recordings.
We live in trying times. Nothing however makes the time go by better than some new music from John Nemeth. This album will grow on you each time you play it. Guaranteed.