Following a horror tour accident that left the Nashville guitarist with sixteen screws in his picking arm, Jared James Nichols’ self-titled third album feels like a man resetting after an identity crisis. If these 12 songs are his new set of clothes, they’re a good fit, with Nichols’s promised “loud-ass guitars” sprayed convincingly over his hardest collection to date.
An early highlight is recent single Down The Drain, a spindly, nihilistic, throat-flaying alt.rocker with a riff the 90s grunge mob would have gladly claimed and a wah-wah solo they couldn’t have pulled off.
Likewise Hard Wired, which opens with a sonic freak-out like Jimi Hendrix riding a giant hornet, before settling into a caveman clud that suggests an unhurried Bill Ward behind the drum kit.
Black Sabbath are surely the touchstone for Hallelujah and Bad Roots’ elemental power blues too, but Nichols’s growing heaviosity is tempered with considerable invention, not least on Skin ‘N Bone, which sounds like Muse playing the James Bond theme. A lucky break, on this evidence.