By Daniel Watts
Music Reviewer and Segment Producer
I recently stumbled upon a video that showcased the unique talent of a small town guitar player from Wisconsin. This long-haired twenty something year old had the ability to pick up a guitar and play but he did much more than that. He played what flowed from his soul. His playing emulated what he felt, his guitar spoke as loud and clear as his words. This guitar player’s name? Jared James Nichols.
Since watching that video I have become fascinated by Jared James Nichols’ whole image. He’s around my age which is cool and also gives me hope for the next generation of music fans. He’s got the Rock and Roll look down, he’s got a nice set of pipes and can play the Blues with the best and rip roar the place down.
On the Highwayman EP you can definitely hear the SRV influence through his soul soothing and spiritual playing. What really makes Nichols stand out from his musical peers is his playing style. He plucks the strings with his fingers instead of using a guitar pick. This allows Nichols to create a different and special sound altogether. To help further define his playing and vocals on Highwayman, in my opinion they could easily be compared to the singing and playing of The Winery Dogs guitarist and vocalist Richie Kotzen.
Highwayman consists of five songs, two are covers and the other three are Nichols originals. I found each track to be fun, entertaining and exciting. These songs feature many textures in my opinion. I thought Jared and his band flowed effortlessly from Blues to Southern Rock to Hard Rock. This allows the listener to hear first-hand the many different musical influences that make up Nichols’ unique playing and singing. My two favorites on Highwayman are the Grand Funk Railroad cover of “We’re An American Band” and the Humble Pie cover of “30 Days In The Hole”. Jared and his band do these songs great justice, each song sounds fresh, alive and spiritual.
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