John Németh – Stronger Than Strong
NOLA Blue Records/Memphis Grease Records
It’s been about three years now since Feelin’ Freaky was released; this new album from John Németh and his band continues to showcase the modern R&B, soul and blues that Németh delivers oh-so-well. This is a fantastic album with ten great original tracks and two super covers and, if not his best work ever, it surely rivals his best. He can belt out tunes and blow harp as few can.
Joining Németh in his band are Danny Banks on drums and backing vocals, Matthew Wilson on bass and backing vocals, Jon Hay on guitar and backing vocals and Adam Hill on tambourine. Banks and Wilson make for a stellar backline and the nineteen year old Hay truly belies his age with the skill he demonstrates on guitar. These young guys tour with John and are road warriors: they are swampy, cool and provide outstanding support for Németh .
The album begins with “Come and Take It,” a new cut where Németh tells his woman what the title says and if she can he will be her man. It’s got a throbbing, hill country sort of driving beat and cool vocal effects, plus we get to hear some of John’s fine harp play. “Fountain of a Man” follows, another original with a driving beat and some slick, in your face harp; gritty and cool stuff, for sure! Hay also adds a pretty guitar solo to enjoy. The Junior Parker cut “Sometimes” is next. Instead of the jazzy, dance hall approach to the song, Németh turns it into a slow and swampy cool blues. He wails and shouts effectively and then adds some signature harp to the mix that continues the tone and feel of the cut. “Throw Me in the Water” follows, a jumping and jiving original where Németh sings as Hay sets a nice groove on his guitar. Hay also offers up so intense soloing on his guitar that was outstanding. This is followed by “Chain Breaker” where Németh opens on his harp and gives us a sweet blues where he complains he can’t get through to his woman. He sings and shouts with emotion and blows some mean harp once again and Hay gets to let us hear some more of his excellent guitar. “Bars” is up next, a blues ballad where Németh sings about the situation in our country and uses the analogy of the various bars in our lives to talk about it. He sings, “Bars on the window to keep ups safe, bars on the corner to help us erase, bars on the door ‘til we do our time, stars and bars occupy minds.” Hay offers up another solo, this one somber and fitting the tone of the cut.
“I Can See Your Love Light Shine” takes a more positive note; we get another dose of Németh expertly blowing his Hohner and singing boldly with Hay laying out some more mean licks. Next is “Deprivin’ a Love” where John shifts into a cut that is more of a driving blues rocker that is quite cool. Hay is up to the task, too, playing his solos well. Németh also squeaks and squawks on his harp ever so nicely. The boys also do a cool call and response with John. “Work For Love” comes next, a soulful blues where Németh again does his vocal magic as he tells his woman he works for her and works for love but that’s apparently not enough because she’s leaving him. The harp is mellow and somber as it expresses emotion within the cut in a long solo with feeling. Hay gets his turn to emote instrumentally and also makes the best of it with a stinging solo. The other cover on the disc is Jesse Belvin’s 1959 soul classic “Guess Who.” Németh does a great job with it and Hay helps out with some slow and restrained work on his guitar that adds to the track so well. “She’s My Punisher” is a slower tempo-ed but swinging cut that evokes the late 1950’s or early 1960’s as Németh sings of life with little loving. Another short harp solo and sweet support on guitar round this one out. The CD concludes with “Sweep the Shack;” a romping track with slick guitar playing by Hay and a driving beat that makes you want to get up and boogie.
Wow! What a set of tunes and what fantastic work by John and his band. This is by far the best CD that I heard all summer and fall and perhaps all year. This will for sure be considered in all the next rounds of blues music awards. This is John Németh at his finest. I loved this CD and completely and unreservedly recommend adding it to your collection!