A J Ghent review…February 10, 2018…





AJ Ghent (pronounce it “J-ent”)  is a member of blues royalty. His uncle, Willie Eason, and his grandfather, Henry Nelson, were virtually the creators of the “sacred steel” tradition and guitar styles, implemented today by players such as the Campbell Brothers, Sam Butler, Robert Randolph Family Band, and many others.  An expressive, powerful vocalist, AJ is a wizard on all things guitar, especially his Jackson Steel Slide King. or his custom 33:3 8-string.  All his myriad of sounds are on display on his latest outing, “The Neo Blues Project,” a six-cut EP on Ropedope Records.

The set starts with the lusty romp made famous by Junior Kimbrough, “Do The Rump! ’til the broad daylight!”  This one has AJ on both slide and pedal steel guitars.  “Wash Ya Hair” is a fine taste of contemporary funk that preaches lettin’ your light shine for everyone.  “Mercy” finds our hero asking an indifferent lover for “just a little bit of Mercy on my soul.”  This one is done in the vein of the soul classics, with backing vocals from MarLa and Tiffany Ghent.  He closes the set on a fervent, uptempo note, with “Gonna Rock,” finding redemption in finally getting out of a soured love affair.  This one has elements of gospel and Sixties-era soul,  punctuated by a dazzling slide break st the bridge.

Our favorite was the highlight of the set.  “Power’ rides a killer riff over Doomsday  percussion, as AJ preaches ’bout “a revolution comin,’ to empower people to stand up against racial and social injustice and intolerance, no matter how tough times get.  This one will bring to mind the protest anthems of James Brown mixed with the passion, power, and emotion of Lenny Kravitz.

In his formative years, AJ spent some time playing with Col. Bruce Hampton, from whom he learned the importance of time, tone, and space, and those qualities resonate throughout the grooves of “The Neo Blues Project.”  It combines all his family influences from blues to gospel and everything in between, making for a unique and most excellent listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.


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