John Németh

Magic Touch

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With his amazing and versatile voice, and his equally as versatile harmonica skills, John Nemeth brings a lot of potential to the table in Magic Touch, his first nationally distributed album (Nemeth's earlier albums, 2002's The Jack of Harps and 2004's Come and Get It, were self released). Sounding a bit like Ray Charles crossed with a veteran Chicago bluesman, Nemeth knows his way around a blues tune (he covers Willie Dixon's "Sit & Cry the Blues" here, for instance), but he shines brightest when he moves from his beloved blues into more soulful R&B territory, which allows his truly expressive voice to work its wonders. The best tracks on Magic Touch, including the striking "Blue Broadway," the sly "You're an Angel" and the she-done-me-wrong ballad "Up to No Good," all of which are Nemeth originals, exhibit a kind of bluesy R&B feel, bolstered by the presence of the Texas Horns and Nemeth's own horn-like harmonica lines. Each of these songs feels like it has been around for years, and Nemeth's singing finds all the right corners in them, blending a soulful approach with a refreshing dose of sly humor. One gets the impression that Magic Touch is just a starting point, though, and that Nemeth's best work is yet to come. He's got a voice that can sing anything, and his harmonica playing is bright, jazzy and inspired, but it's his writing that is the silver bullet here. If it continues to develop to keep pace with his performing skills, Nemeth may well have a truly monster album coming just down the road.

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