Thursday, June 28, 2007

Magic Touch reviewed by Mark Thomspon

Magic Touch
John Nemeth
Blind Pig Records
12 tracks/44:27

This is Nemeth’s debut recording and you can tell from the line-up of heavyweights backing him on the disc that he has talent. Anson Funderburgh handles the role of producer and adds his guitar to one track. The rest of the time, Junior Watson does his usual stellar job of providing killer guitar licks. Ronnie James Webber from the Fabulous T-Birds adds bass and the three-piece horn section includes Mark Kazinoff on sax.
Nemeth handles the vocals and adds harmonica to several tracks.
The disc opens with “Blues Hit the Big Town”, featuring a tough groove highlighted by Nemeth’s use of the upper register on his harp. The following track, “Blue Broadway”, ventures into the world of Soul music. Nemeth has a voice really suited for this type of material. He easily slides from a husky mid-range to a pleading vocal at the high end of the scale. His cover of “She’s Looking Good” comes close to capturing the excitement of Wilson’s Pickett’s rendition of the song.
The disc offers equal helpings of blues and soul with Nemeth’s vocal range able to handle the demands of both. He slows the pace and goes deep down in the alley on “Sit & Cry the Blues”, punctuated by Watson’s guitar and a closing solo from Kazinoff’s sax. On the title track, Nemeth whoops and hollers over a blasting horn section before John Calhoun Street finishes the track off with a rousing piano solo.
This is a very strong recording throughout, an impressive achievement for a first release. Nemeth has the vocal chops to handle a variety of material, which allows him to mix soul and blues influences into a compelling collection that is fresh and exciting. Add the contributions of Junior Watson to the mix and you have a disc that will bear repeated listens.

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