Review: ‘Jared James Nichols’

Jared James Nichols, self-titled album

By Mike O’Cull

Vocalist, songwriter, and monster blues/rock guitarist Jared James Nichols displays all facets of his talent on his blazing new album Jared James Nichols.

The record drops January 13th, 2023 on Black Hill Records and is Nichols’ third full-length effort. It was produced, engineered, and mixed by Eddie Spear (Zach Bryan, Slash, Rival Sons), who did a wonderful job of capturing Jared James Nichols roaring and ripping his way through these new tracks. The songs run from blues to grunge and back again, showing fans pieces of the influences that contributed to Nichols’ wild, energetic style.

The Wisconsin-born and Nashville-based Nichols is one of the mightiest and most unique guitar slingers on the scene today. He plays with a fingerstyle technique that makes his lines and riffs scatter and speak in an instantly identifiable way. He’s a Gibson Guitars brand ambassador with his own signature model Les Paul who excels at creating the kind of rock and roll music that shakes bones and blows venues to bits. He’s rung up millions of Spotify streams, packed rooms around the world, and has performed with Slash, Billy Gibbons, Zakk Wylde, Black Stone Cherry, and Leslie West. His vocals and guitar work blow minds every time he plays live and he’s on the verge of a massive breakout.

What’s more, Nichols rocked this set out live in the studio. “It was made live with intention,” he said. “It wasn’t like we could fix the tempos. We didn’t use a click track. I wrote a batch of songs to capture everything I’m about. I didn’t hold back. I thought of what I listened to growing up, whether it was grunge or blues. We got a little heavier. I made a record to serve as the menu for the live show. There’s an element of excitement and danger. It’s my version of rock and roll with a little more humanity.”

Nichols is revved up and ready to go from the first moments of the record’s opening song “My Delusion.” It’s an absolutely stomping tune built on his upfront vocals and slippery, screaming guitar. His tone is beyond gorgeous and he deploys it with face-melting power. His solo is crisp, articulate, and shred-ish but never crosses the border into metal. That this is all going down live makes it even more impressive. His rhythm section matches him lick for lick and helps Nichols quickly grab every ounce of your attention.

“Easy Come, Easy Go” is a blasting, hard rock boogie number that ups the tempo and intensity from the previous song. Nichols flat-out wails on this one, filling the tune with his deeply personal guitar style. He simply doesn’t sound like any of his contemporaries and this lodges his playing in your ears. He uses feedback and chromatic color at will to paint the air in real time. He leans harder into his vocal mic here, as well, letting his full-on rock voice out to play.

Things get heavier on the single “Hard Wired.” It’s a low-tuned grunge rocker about being hooked on a toxic, destructive relationship that you just can’t escape. Nichols’ dominates his guitar on every second of this gem, taking it from high-flying howls and beefy riffs to technical lead lines and crisp rhythms. The live feel of the musicians is magically delicious and spectacularly human. Jared is obviously at his best in a live situation like this and goes all-in on every note.

Jared James Nichols is loaded with highlights and big-league playing. The record is a reminder of how much raw talent going live off the floor can still accomplish and how valid and relevant that approach still is. Be sure to spin “Good Time Girl,” “Saint Or Fool,” and the closer “Out Of Time.” Fans of real, hard-nosed rock and roll are going to be cranking this album up all year. Highly recommended.

Pre-order Jared James Nichols Here 

Watch “Down the Drain” 


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