Don’t try to snatch him back and hold him, he’s a man on the move. John Németh had already established himself among the very top ranks of blues musicians and modern soul singers when he decided to break the mold with his new record, FEELIN’ FREAKY. Németh fearlessly crushes all barriers of style and genre with an album of original songs that defies all the usual pigeonholes. Drawing from his strong influences in blues and R&B, as well as contemporary sounds in hip hop and rock & roll, John creates music that is personal as well as universal, and owes its origin to no one but John Németh. John’s songs are groove and melody-driven, laced with thoughtful lyrics and nuanced humor, and cover themes from social issues of gun violence and class values to the pure hedonistic joy of dancing, sexuality and marijuana. He creates his songs from melodies and phrases he draws from the sounds of life, from early-morning Memphis songbirds to the din of the city. For this album John brought his new songs to his great touring band, the Blue Dreamers – Danny Banks on drums, Matthew Wilson on bass and guitar, and Johnny Rhodes on guitar – so they could hone the groove and finish building the album as a group. Under the simpatico guidance of Grammy-nominated producer Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), FEELIN’ FREAKY emerges as a modern personal masterpiece.
This album is a testament to power with taste and restraint, dramatic dynamics through the use of space. Németh’s striking tenor vocals are already legendary, with a pitch-perfect purity of range and power that has drawn comparisons to soul singers from O.V. Wright to James Brown. He keeps that power under a tight leash, letting it rip at just the right places, using his voice to deliver and serve the song. Németh is also a very accomplished harmonica player who can boogie with the best of them, in various diatonic positions as well as on the mighty Chromatic harp, yet he plays relatively little on this record. What he plays are largely horn lines, trumpet-like staccato blasts that serve to create dramatic dynamic shifts, tension and release, all in service to the song, not the ego of the player. The few solos he delivers are concise, tasty and powerful.
FEELIN’ FREAKY was recorded at the Dickinson family’s Zebra Ranch Studios in Mississippi and Willie Mitchell’s legendary Royal Studios in Memphis. Németh’s touring band on their instruments and background vocals is at the heart of the recordings, along with musicians hand-picked to complement the individual tracks. John often works with horns, and Memphis players Marc Franklin (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Art Edmaiston (Tenor, Bari sax) deliver echoes of classic Memphis sound all over this record. Németh and Dickinson agreed that the B-3 Organ parts had to go to Charles Hodges, who contributed so much to the Hi Records sound on albums by the likes of Al Green and Ann Peebles. For extra depth and sweetness, they added strings by J. Kirkscey, B. Luscombe, J. Munson and P. Tsai.