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, will release a new studio album, JUNE IS SHORT, JULY IS LONG, on October 4th on Compass Records.
Having spent brief periods in Missouri, Texas, New York and London, Nichols found his home in a remote smallholding in the Welsh hills in the ‘80s. This back-to-basics, rural lifestyle is mirrored in his approach to music and the art that graces his album covers and informs his videos. His eleventh solo release, JUNE IS SHORT, JULY IS LONG, is a cross-genre collection that documents his journey from being born and raised in the American Midwest through to his current life in the rolling hills of rural Wales.
“It’s full circle,” he says. “I started off in the Ozark hills and now here I am, in the hills again.”
His new music is a record of that 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. He’s spent the past 25 years making music, of which he smiles and says, “It’s all roots music. Three chords and a good story. Don’t overthink it … just get in the groove and let it happen.”
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?”
Having established his pinpoint on the musical map in ‘90s trio The Fellow Travellers, Nichols has found himself praised from all corners of the musical world for his consistently stunning solo releases. With JUNE IS SHORT, JULY IS LONG, he has added another gem to his musical crown.