Jeb Loy Nichols, the UK-based, Wyoming-born artist and songsmith, has been putting out his own singular brand of smoky retro soul for over two decades, gathering a fervent cult following along the way. Nichols, backed by his touring band, the Westwood All-Stars, releases a new studio album, ‘June Is Short, July Is Long’ on Compass Records.
His new music is a record of his journey. Raised on bluegrass and country & western music, Nichols discovered southern soul when he was a teenager. From there it was off to New York City and hip-hop, then over to London and reggae and dancehall. It was this potent mix of genres – his love of classic American roots music and Jamaican reggae, dub and dancehall – that’s since been his signature.
‘June Is Short, July Is Long’ was recorded in Wales with The Westwood All-Stars for an organic, capturing-a-moment feel. “It was all done in five days,” he says of the sessions. “One day setting up, one day learning the songs, three days recording. . . it was great. The best music is a conversation, and this was a conversation between old friends.”
The resulting “musical conversation!” has the lived-in, comfortable feel of a classic. It could sit comfortably alongside vintage albums by Ry Cooder or Van Morrison with its stripped-down, real-deal mix of joy and pain. “If you keep it simple” he says, “there’s less to go wrong.” The resulting collection of songs proves his point. “You take a little country, some soul, some old friends and few good stories, and what can go wrong?”