This Strange Faith article was written by Jack Press, a GIGsoup contributor
Close your eyes. Clear your ears. Cleanse your scent. You’re in a room where smoke not only covers your view, it soaks through you filling your nose violently whilst the music vibrantly fills your ears, igniting your body with the spirit of dance like keys do a car to drive. Tables hover around the room like an obstacle course whilst a cluster of people burst into the middle, their dancing shoes firmly on. It’s the 60’s and it’s feeling right, you’re feeling good. Pianos, saxophones, and a vocal that’ll melt your heart in a minute. Yeah, this is the life.
Open your eyes. Fill your ears. Sniff away. It’s 2015 and people dancing their lives away are a thing of the past, replaced with acid-soaked warehouse raves and body-tangling mosh-pits. Unless you’re Jeb Loy Nichols of course, in which you’re still stuck in a world you never lived in longing to bring it back with all your might.
Strange Faith is the meeting of minds of soul-folk aficionado Jeb Loy Nichols and blues producer Benedic Lambdin – whose work has included Valerie June and Jamie Cullen no less. Centred round the smooth, mouth-watering vocals of Nichols, Strange Faith’s debut ‘Love & Poverty’ is a chocolate truffle laced in lashes of bluesy soul dyed in a touch of country croon.
‘If Sun Gone West’ is a piano-led, harmony-soaked intro to the album. It’s follow-up ‘Hard Work In (Good Lovin’ Out)’ that defines this record – slick rhythms, soothing saxophones, and the simplicity of a summer’s day soaking through a chorus of infectious melodies and smooth lyrics.
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A lust for love and a longing for a good life are the laws of the land in this lyrically lethargic yet brilliantly written record. The sounds of saxophones, pianos, and a rhythm section are rooted in the rhythms of the sixties that it’s like listening to a record from back in the day.
Nichols lyrics are simple slices of something special; a series of words stringed together to showcase his soft vocals through like a spirit does a medium. The sheer honesty that shines from his succulent tones in ‘Just A Man’ scrapes the surface of the whirlwind world that encapsulates Nichols life – “I’m just a man, I come with this heart here in my hand/ it may be tattered, it may be old, it may be broken, it may be cold”.
If an honest sense of loss surrounds this record, it’s done in such a way you’ll be left smiling like a kid in a candy-shop. Why? It’s a beautiful pick n mix of mellow melodies, heart-warming harmonies, and soothing soul-enriched songs that’ll melt you as much as they’ll move you – “Now think of the number one/and follow it with every zero in the world/ that’s how many years I’ll be lovin’ ya girl”.
Let’s not forget the legacy Lambdin leaves on Love & Poverty – his honey-soaked sound drips through in every song, his guitar licks looping through complimenting the bluesy soul on display. Strange Faith was the result of a one-off session that lasted too long– a magical melding of musical minds that would make even the finest musicians of the world envious.
Whilst it’s a struggle to critique this record, its Achilles heel lies in its lack of depth. Yes, Love & Poverty is a tour de force of bluesy soul, but that’s all it is. It’s the sum of its parts, nothing more and nothing less and that’s a shame if there ever was one as Love & Poverty begs to be exploited more, to be taken to levels higher than the ones it rests on.
All in all though, this is the sound of a soul lost long ago and whilst nostalgic, Strange Faith have created a record that belongs as much in the present as much as it does in the past. So whilst the days get darker and the weather colder, as autumn welcomes us into its arms, let Love & Poverty be the soundtrack of your summer’s final days.
Love and Poverty is available now on Universal Music Argentina