JIMBO MATHUS – BLUE LIGHT
2012 – Fat Possum Records
Opening with some very atmospheric steel the title track on this 6 track EP Blue Light plants the listener firmly in Mathus’ Mississippi roots. According to his Wikipedia entry his childhood nanny was the daughter of none other than Charley Patton, considered by some to be the father of the delta blues. You couldn’t make that up! As a founder member of the superbly named Squirrel Nut Zippers in the early 90s and playing in a punk band before that Mathus’career and influences seem to be spread over a broad spectrum. His was a name that I was not familiar with before I picked up this recording and started to do some research. This EP serves the uninitiated well as a taster.
The second trackAin’t Feelin’ It betrays a blues influence appropriate to someone who worked and toured extensively with Buddy Guy for a couple of years both touring and
recording the album Sweet Tea. Haunted John has a rockier feel, at times bringing to mind the country rock of the Allman Brothers and at others a more alternative and recent influence. Fucked
Up World could have been penned by Steve Earle recently. The lines “I’m Tired of living in a fucked up world. I wish the man would get his shit together” just somehow reminds me of Steve at his grumpy, political and polemical best. Shackles and Chains sound like it has borrowed a groove straight from Otis Redding’s Tramp (Listen and see if you agree) or come straight from Mussel Shoals at any rate. I mean that as a compliment rather than an accusation. The lead guitar
that lifts and underpins the track never sounds too flash and just highlights and lifts the overall sound. After the first few listens the guitar playing is one of the highlights of the whole EP. It is just so understated that it takes a couple of goes for it to really stand out. Burn The Honky Tonk must be a tribute to George Jones’ Burn The Honky Tonk Down but is not the same song. I like the reference as homage to what has gone before. There is another song with a similar line but it is too deep in the memory banks to recall at the moment.
Mathus released the album Confederate Buddha with his band Tri-State Coalition last year and is due to release another, White Buffalo later his year. On the strength of this EP I am already thinking about diving into his back catalogue as well as anticipating the next release. At just shy of twenty minutes this offering is short and sweet but well worth a listen.