The cover of Nemeth’s latest Blind Pig label release, “Love Me Tonight,” does not inspire confidence. It depicts a white boy from Idaho with his tie unloosened, soul patch fully grown even as his hairline recedes, being nuzzled by a prototypical babe while staring soulfully into the camera. Fortunately the music inside is southern-flambéd rhythm & blues, a mash-up of Memphis and Macon, with a little Muscle Shoals and some fillips of gospel on the side.
Nemeth’s voice (he sounds like a better John Fogerty) has sufficient range to match his confidence. He struts and careens through the phrases to his mostly original fare with such hollered self-assurance that it is easy to miss the subtleties of his craft, the inflections and modulations that sell the sentiment contained in the frequently stock narratives. And his harp playing isn’t bad either.
Here is Nemeth singing Ray Charles’ “Night Time Is the Right Time” onstage with guitarist Elvin Bishop back in February. And here is a rendition of his original, “My Troubled Mind,” that better reflects the new disc.
This is feel-good music, by turns greasy and razor-sharp. It may take you until Tuesday to recover, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be refreshed.
John Nemeth at Famous Dave’s, tonight, April 24, at 9 p.m., $5.