Josh Newcom likes to do things his own way. Back in high school, a recording session with a clueless engineer prompted the singer/guitarist to buy a 4-track recorder and learn to do it himself. When he couldn’t find a drummer to his liking, he taught himself to play, then learned to play bass as well. He soon tried his hand at music videos and got so proficient that Merle Haggard hired him to direct one of his, then picked him to go on the road with his band as well. Newcom also was the chief instrumentalist for some of country’s heavy hitters early on, including Luke Bryan’s demos.
Despite his Nashville environs, Newcom wasn’t content to stick to just one genre. About three years ago, after deciding that he couldn’t do any more stuff for other people, he embarked on an ambitious solo project, recording 10 records in 18 months, covering blues, bluegrass, metal, country, and rock.
He’s just released the first in the series, The Blues Gonna Getcha. Newcom insists that he’s fully immersed in and committed to whatever genre he’s representing at the time, and the results here back up his claim. He doesn’t sound like a country artist dabbling in blues; he sounds like a muddy-footed delta denizen who just crawled up on the Mississippi banks to howl.
Looking like a funkier version of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Newcom kicks off the project with a one-man-band presentation of “Girl Got the Mojo,” a slinky, slippery slide fest with a swampy Tony Joe White feel.
“Out of Mississippi” careens crazily down the tracks at breakneck speed, fueled by Newcom’s chooglin’ harp and greasy slide. “In Da Bayou” is an unholy commingling of Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler scatting swampily. “Freak Train”’s boiling cauldron of country/honk fusion sounds like an Omar and The Howlers cut.
Newcom says that the title cut incorporates all of his blues influences, from B.B. to Stevie Ray to Muddy and the Wolf with stops along the way to take on Sister Rosetta, Mavis, and Etta. And to pay homage to one of his idols, Newcom kicked off his release day with an appearance at B.B. King’s Ebony Club in Indianola, Mississippi, with all proceeds going to the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola.
It’s an impressive presentation that feels and sounds authentic, delivered from the depths of a bluesman’s soul.