Bluesman Greg Nagy packs a punch right from the git-go in Fell Toward None, playing a snappy Motor City guitar and belting things out vocally. Before you have chance to even sit down, you're back up again and dancing, snapping fingers to his Steve Cropper by way of Duke Robilliard six-stringing (and, hey, you'll even hear traces of Alvin Lee and the 70s psychedelic fretbenders as well). Lotsa soul and sass in this white boy, not to mention a Memphis bounce and jump-step with rhythmic intensities, as in Wishing Well (not the Free song), that leap out of the speakers and grab ya by the throat. A couple of times, 'cause it happens again in Here Comes My Baby, I was reminded of Peter Parcek and his wondrous era revivalism (here) but, man, Nagy is a cat who knows the east side of the tracks damn well.
The gent's backing band is tighter than hell when it comes to burning the house down, with drummer Kevin Depree not only a gymnastic standout in such instances but a co-writer as well. On the other hand, the slinkily lamentive I'll Know I'm Ready downbeats a morning-after-the-night-before in which the narrator finally ruefully acknowledges lost love in a laconic ballad, quite Clapton-ish vocally, an interesting take on a wrinkle in relationships not often viewed in this fashion (usually, everyone's pissed'er than hell). Let it Roll then trots out a James Brown underside while interpolating folk, near-gospel, and nightclub jazz, an inspissation that tours the listener around the night life.
Expect far more of the Windy City vibe than rock and roil pyrotechnics, but when Nagy lets his hair down, he just cranks, and I hope to God he intrudes more of that into his next release. Regardless, this is some mighty fine work where black and white influences meet in the back room, shake hands, and then get down to business for a bar full of enthusiasts. He may have been a popular cat with the mid-West's Root Doctor ensemble, but Nagy's going to be a lot more widely embraced with this CD and the moody closer Fell Toward None just might be the song that grabs all the ears he deserves—short but atmospherically bittersweet, it reaches into the heart and memory, lifting a glass of smoky wine before the next tear falls, perfect radio music for that pensive midnight drive in the hinterlands or down a deserted highway.
And a side kudo must be rendered Kate Moss for an art direction job that managed to perfectly slip in Jim Colando's too cool abstract canvas 'neath the disc, perfectly in harmony with the release's visual timbre. Nice! I'd never have thought you coulda made the two copacetic, but they're blissfully wed.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles