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'Highwayman' is the new EP by LA-based hard blues rocker Jared James Nichols from Wisconsin which has, apparently, been "inspired by life on the road during a 70 plus run of dates in Europe and UK earlier this year". Comprised of two covers - Grand Funk Railroad's 'We're an American Band' and Humble Pie's '30 Days in the Hole' - plus three original compositions, each track's flavoured with a discernible raw energy that's evidently sourced from his extensive 2015 touring thus far. I've heard it in artists before... particularly from the rock fraternity; musicians who are buzzing from a series of live shows and strive to capture that energy in a studio context. One feeds the other, and Nichols has most certainly succeeded in capturing a live dynamic and organic feeling in these recordings, which instantly gives the music an authentic kick. And when I say raw energy, it's not just inherent within the up tempo numbers here, as 'Old Glory' and 'Gone' are far from fast-paced rockers, although still manage to ooze enough sonic vigour through their hard driving blues in a laid-back impetus.

While Nichols hasn't got one of the greatest voices from the genre, at least in terms of range, as there seem to be parameters to his tonality and style (a mere smooth/gravel duality), the man sings to his own strengths. And the vocals he delivers are apposite for the music. Bassist Erik Sandin and sticksman Dennis Holm provide a solid rhythmic backbone for the music, and it's over this that Nichols' fretboard talents can flourish... and flourish they do. His rhythm playing is tight enough while still retaining that raw rocking edge I've already mentioned, although the man's soloing is where you feel he's most comfortable expressing himself, more so than through his voice. He attacks and caresses that fretboard in all manner of emotively stirring ways. And the analogue warmth captured in his lead tone makes more emphatic the retro rocking sways of this man's modus operandi.

With 'Highwayman' released on the eve of Glenn Hughes' UK solo tour, and Nichols' in tow as main support, it's a well-timed release and taster of what this man might be capable of on the live stage. In fact, after fully digesting this EP, I'm left with the feeling that this is a musician who needs to be experienced in live action to get the full Jared James Nichols experience. I'm guessing this is where his talents genuinely shine.
Listenable Records
Review by Mark Holmes
16th Oct 2015
1) We're an American Band (Grand Funk Railroad)
2) Old Glory
3) 30 Days in the Hole (Humble Pie)
4) Fallin' Down
5) Gone
"...Nichols has most certainly succeeded in capturing a live dynamic and organic feeling in these recordings, which instantly gives the music an authentic kick."