Jeb Loy Nichols continues to surprise us with his perfectly blended mix of soul, country, folk and blues. His latest album, Country Hustle homes in on his life experiences and travels.
On his first track, “Come See Me,” the lyrics tell the story of living alongside rolling hills and he asks a woman to come see him, as there’s “an empty nest only you can fill.” Tabla drums give a taste of India, though he’s singing about the countryside. This combination of country and world sounds really shows how well-traveled Nichols is.
The entire album is a narrative of different lives, no doubt a reflection of Nichols’ own life, since he hails from Missouri but has lived in Texas, New York and London. Country Hustle is a showcase of modern production but highlights the nostalgic themes in which the album is rooted.
A lot of the songs are simple yet poetic, such as “You Got In,” a ramped-up acoustic ode to a woman who won his heart, even though he doesn’t “know if there’s room enough.” He elaborates that he doesn’t “recognize anything [he] owns anymore, since [she] got in.” It’s a short song, but it leaves an impact that emphasizes Nichols lone wolf attitude.
In what might be the best song on the album, “Long Live the Loser Pt. 1 & 2” takes a positive, satirical stance on menial everyday failures like losing your car, “I walk everywhere, taking my time,” and not having friends, “not one in sight,” while still not having it any other way. The song changes in a split second, passing through a psychedelic phase of voices and sound, to reveal a swinging funky outro, where he repeats the line “lay down your life.”
Overall, Country Hustle might be anything but country, but frankly Nichols mixture of such different sounds works in his favor, and acts as his placeholder for a soon-to-be classic album.