This writer first was introduced to singer-guitarist when he was guitarist with the excellent blues and soul band Root Doctor at the Pocono Blues Festival a few years ago. Shortly afterwards, he left that fine band and embarked on his own career as a leader. I missed his debut album Walk That Fine Line, which was highly praised, but have been enjoying his latest recording, Fell Toward None (Vizztone/Big O Records) that displays his mix of classic and modern blues with a strong soul-R&B tinge with some rock accents.
It's an album that features Nagy and a band that includes Jim Shaneberger on bass, Kevin DePree on drums and percussion, on keyboards withGlenn Brown adding percussion on one track and the Motor City horns on three selections. With the exception of the opening Pack it Up, the songs are originals by Nagy and his band members. The strong modern urban soul-blues base of the music is evident from the brassy opening track with tight band work, strong singing by Nagy and fluid stinging guitar. As a vocalist he comes across as an equal to say Tad Robinson, Darrell Nulisch or Delbert McClinton (in his bluesier side) to mention a couple of similar strong blues-eyed singers in the vein.
When he kicks off the rocking shuffle Wishing Well, with some guitar effects, his nuanced use of such effects distinguishes this from the average heavy-handed blues-rock rendition of such material. And those rockers likely could not convincingly deliver a soulful tune like “Be With You,” which is enhanced by the Motor City Horns’ punchy brass. A similar mood follows on “I’ll Know I’m Ready,” a bluesy lament with a warm, relaxed vocal and an effective understated accompaniment creating the mood on a delightful performance.
The rest of the album exhibits variety in material and accompaniments that showcase Nagy’s considerable vocal and guitar capabilities along with that of his strong band. There is exciting guitar work on “Can’t Take It No More,” the tight funk of “Let It Roll,” the country-soul feel of “Still Means The World to Me, “ the atmospheric title track, and the witty lyrics inspired by today’s social media, “Facebook Mama,” (which is set to a Texas shuffle groove with his guitar sounding like he is playing through a Leslie speaker such as Buddy Guy played through on the Junior Wells’ Delmark recording of “Hoodoo Man Blues”).
“Fell Toward None” is an intelligently produced and performed recording that is full of soulful vocals, superior fretwork and focused accompaniments. Greg Nagy and band certainly are growing their reputation with this outstanding recording. Greg’s website is www.gregnagy.com and Big O Records is www.big-O-records.com.
I received my review copy from the performer. Here is Greg in performance doing Willie Brown's M&O Blues.