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John Németh - Love Me Tonight

Blind Pig Records

11 songs; 44:53; Library Quality

Style: Retro and Modern Blues; Soul Blues

Allow me to repeat myself: “When it comes to the best young, white, contemporary blues singers, John Németh and Andrew Duncanson of The Kilborn Alley Blues Band are in the top five with Nemeth holding my personal list’s number one spot.” It is Németh’s vocal versatility and power that secured the top spot.

That fact alone is enough to categorize this CD as a “must buy.” But, it becomes a “must buy/order today” album when one adds to the equation Németh’s harmonica mastery, melodic genius, songwriting, and band line up including guitar (and keyboards) whiz Robert Welsh. On drums is June Core, whose credits include Little Charlie and The Nightcats; and on bass is Dmitry Gorodetsky (formerly with Roomful of Blues) or Kedar Roy. Guests are Elvin Bishop on guitar for two numbers and background vocalists: Ed Earley, Steve Willis, and CD engineer and assistant producer, Kid Andersen.

Robert Welsh first knocked me out at the 2007 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, IA when he played guitar behind leader Mark Hummel on chromatic harp, and harp guest James Harman. Then he played keyboards behind Paul Oscher. Playing scorching leads when one was thrown his way and fills on guitar like a keyboardist, Welsh was impressively versatile and amazingly competent no matter whom he was supporting. He was back at the MVBF in 2008 on keyboards with John Németh and guitarist Junior Watson

This self-produced CD contains intricate arrangements that reveal more with each listen. For example, check track seven, “Where You Been.” Woven together tightly in three minutes are chromatic harmonica, a creative bass line, solid rhythmic organ and drumming and clever guitar work that blends retro and modern tones into compelling music that is just wonderful. Another example is track nine, “Love Gone Crazy” featuring some of Németh’s best harp.

For his second Blind Pig release, the award winning Németh, originally from Idaho and currently living in California’s Bay area, pointedly continues to capture the inspired sounds of the 1950s and 1960s. Bringing thoughts of Jackie Wilson, the CD reinvigorates the sounds of vintage American R&B. Revealing rapidly maturing songwriting skills, John has crafted ten of the eleven songs by drawing on the classic soul, blues, and R&B influences.

You’ll know exactly what I mean when the first song and title track opens in a familiar Stax Records style. Studio layering allows a completely full sound without, thankfully, a bank of needless horns. If Welsh’s 15 second guitar solo had appeared on 1960s radio, Baby Boomers would, today, be waiting for that passage every time the song played as a “golden oldie.”

Speaking of stick-in-your-mind guitar hooks, wait until you hear Welsh’s ten second opening to track two, “Just Like You.” Németh’s harmonica harmonizes near the end before John launches into goose bump vocals, “I know, I know, You no good.” Again, Welsh’s mid-song solo is so good that John literally screams. Following John’s own killer harp solo, his powerful vocals go into higher register to convince this woman that he can be “...trouble, too...just like you.”

Sing-along fans will love the chorus on the Southern soul styled “Fuel for Your Fire” and the hook saturated “Too Good To Be True.”

For all the promise of Elvin Bishop on guest guitar, “Daughter of the Devil” is an odd misstep. The rhythm is boomy and the vocals are strangely thin and buried in the back. Bishop comes through nicely, however, on the much stronger “Country Boy.”

Coming right back soulfully, “My Troubled Mind” features some of Németh’s most emotive soul while Welsh’s string bending and note stretching are in classic territory.

The only cover is a powerful version of “She's My Heart's Desire” by The Falcons. Welsh recapitulates the guitar solo of the late Robert Ward while Németh, with backing vocals, delivers the goods in pure voice.

“Blues in My Heart” is a great closer, slowly wrapping up the set with one more taste of each ingredient. When John sings early on, “I’ve got the blues in my heart; deep down in my soul,” he sounds like a young Buddy Guy at his hungriest.

Since John Németh slew critics with his dazzling Blind Pig debut album, “Magic Touch,” the buzz surrounding this highly talented and gifted artist turned to ecstatic noise. “Love Me Tonight” confirms that the Blues Blast Music Awards he received last November, Best New Artist Debut and The Sean Costello Rising Star Award, were rightly awarded!

Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL
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