If there is a single word to "define" the entire labyrinthine musical journey offered by singer and songwriter Jeb Loy Nichols' work, it's "mercurial." A farmer living in Wales, the American-born Nichols has been writing and singing country, folk, reggae, funk, soul, jazz, and anything else he's attracted to for over two decades. (Look through his credits; you'll be stunned.) Nichols hasn't issued an album of new studio material since 2012's Jeb Loy Nichols Special. Three-plus-years in the making, Country Hustle began after the songwriter received an invite to London from Andrew Hale (Sade's keyboardist and co-writer).
R aised in Missouri, Jeb Loy Nichols has spent most of his career in Britain, where his CV includes several albums of country soul as well as blue-eyed reggae, novel writing and a smart line in artwork. The deep southern epicentre of Country Hustle is triangulated by the swamp rock of Tony Joe White, the New Orleans funk of Dr John and the husky drawl of JJ Cale, though beats and dub are skilfully woven in. There are confessionals such as Regret, and tart social comment like Long Live the Loser, while Never Too Much turns Luther Vandross's sassy disco anthem into slinky, minimalist intimacy.