Sometimes in life you run across an artist who really connects with you on a very satisfying and edifying level. In my life those artists have included Jimmy Buffet, Bonnie Raitt, Wet Willie, Black Oak Arkansas, and of course first and foremost The Beatles. These artists immediately caught and held my attention the moment I first heard them no matter whether I was a child as I was with the Beatles or a young adult. And now that I’m older it still happens once in a while when I’m lucky.
Most recently it happened when I got the streaming audio for Jimbo Mathus’ new CD “Dark Night of the Soul.” I knew that Mathus was the founder of Squirrel Nut Zippers and a member of the North Mississippi All Stars but I had not heard his work with Tri-State-Coalition or his other solo work on “White Buffalo” last year.
“Dark Night of the Soul” blew me away from the first notes. It is classic southern rock, melding blues, rock, country and even gospel influences with great songwriting that incorporates Southern culture and folklore to create songs that really resonate with the listener. I was hooked.
After I listened to that fantastic record I wanted to see Mathus when he appeared in Atlanta earlier this month at the Star Bar. But the show got pushed so late that it was going to be near midnight before he and the band even got to play and I had to leave. I did get to meet him and talk to him though and was very impressed with his friendliness. He knew I had reviewed his CD and given it a rave review and he was very disappointed but understanding when we could not stay. He gave me a copy of “White Buffalo,” the CD he did last year and we listened to it on the way home and again a few days ago. It is very different from “Dark Night of the Soul,” with much more of a country-rock sound. The more I hear it, the more I like it.
“I’ve been working on this music all my life,” Mathus told me. You can tell. For that reason, Jimbo Mathus is definitely my favorite artist discovery of the year.