“Sun Studio reverb. Merle Haggard, Larry Jon Wilson, Pablo Gad. Townes` high noon couched in beat box dread. George Jackson, Donnie Fritts. Looking down an open road, a past soaked in kerosene. Looking for a brand new start. Keith Jarrett. Pharoah Sanders. Ned Doheny. The Faces in a lock-in at the dark end of James Carr`s street. Genius in the simplicity of the Blues.” – Test Pressing
On January 15th cult troubadour Jeb Loy Nichols presents Ya Smell Me – a rich, masterful 6 track mini album soul-drenched country, folk and funk, with a hip hop sensibility.
Featuring friends and collaborators Andrew Hale, Distance, Nostalgia 77 and Spooner Oldham, Ya Smell Me recalls something we might not even know we’d lost. Echoes of Townes Van Zandt, Larry Jon Wilson, Eddie Hinton and Bobby Womack rise and fall in the ether, but this is no mere tribute, it’s the sound of country soul right now.
An artist revered by in-the-know heads, Jeb has thus far occupied a nebulous space within popular music, following a steadfast ploughing of his own furrow that has navigated a route around mainstream recognition.
But with Ya Smell Me (combined with On-U Sound’s forthcoming reissue of his hidden-gem Time Traveller album and a brand new full-length slated for Spring 2016), the recognition he deserves is imminent. It will build on choice prior achievements like a Rough Trade Album Of The Month for his Jeb Loy Nichols Special LP, performances/recordings with Lucinda Williams and Lambchop, plus his acclaimed Country Got Soul compilations.
Jeb originally hails from Missouri and has lived in Missouri, Texas, New York and London. He has a fascinating, Zelig-like story, all of which feeds into his authentic, experience-infused music. He caught an original Sex Pistols show in Texas, danced to Larry Levan at the Paradise Garage and witnessed Bambaataa rock Bronx blocks.
He worked in New York’s Record City, selling obscure James Brown singles to Prince Paul, and Fela Kuti vinyl to Brian Eno and David Byrne – just before they recorded Remain In Light.
In London he shared a house with Ari Up from The Slits and Neneh Cherry, and forged a bond with Adrian Sherwood amidst the earth shaking ridims of Jah Shaka’s sound system.
You may have heard Jeb’s music on the Oscar nominated soundtrack to Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting. Back then, in the Nineties, he was signed to Capitol Records by Gary Gersch – the man who signed Nirvana and Guns N Roses. Somewhat notoriously he shunned a life on the road (the approach that was viewed by Capitol as the sole path to success in America) and was subsequently dropped.
Jeb now resides off-grid on the Welsh borders. A renaissance man with a penchant for wood cuts, his work has been exhibited in galleries from Austin to Berlin to Tokyo. He’s a published novelist, a poet and an outsider who enjoys working the land.
Home is ten acres of overgrown upland, where he does his own thing, in his own way, at his own speed; his version of The Country Hustle – where the country gets funky and the funk gets laid back.