A couple years back I was knocking down a couple of cold ones before a Black Keys show at the Metro when my buddy asked who was opening. Nathaniel Mayer was listed as the opening act and, after a few jokes about the chances of this being a relative of John Mayer and the odds of hearing “Your Body is a Wonderland”, a 60-something black dude in a shiny suit emerged and introduced himself. Over the next forty-five minutes or so, Nathaniel won over the crowd and we were all treated to a funky, bluesy set that was dripping with soul and passion.
After a Fat Possum release in 2004 called I Just Want to Be Held and a 2005 tour with the Black Keys, that same Nathaniel Mayer has a new album out this month called Why Don’t You Give It To Me? on HearYa label favorite, Alive Records. Why Don’t You Give It To Me? features Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, Matthey Smith of Outrageous Cherry, Troy Gregory of The Dirtbombs, and Dave Shettler of SSM and The Sights.
Over the course of week, all these boys laid down some filthy, blues numbers and Auerbach’s hard driving guitar seems to agree with Mayer’s weathered voice. The album has a couple of foot stompers including “I’m A Lonely Man,” but where Mayer really shines is on the slow-rumbling blues numbers such as tremendous opening title track and “Please Don’t Drop The Bomb.”
The album is a magnificent blend of blues generations and in “Why Dontcha Show Me,” Mayer really lets the band stretch their legs. The song begins with a two minute coda with just Mayer and a piano. That song slowly builds and you can feel the band ready to explode as Mayer slowly builds the tension. Its almost as if he has the young punks on the leash. They are itching to cut loose, but Mayer keeps everyone in line, like the alpha male in the pack.
Why Don’t You Give It To Me? is a tremendous album lead by a seasoned veteran of soul and backed by an all-star cast of the next generation of blues-rock young bloods.