BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
With Dark Night of the Soul, Jimbo Mathus shifts ever so slightly away from the fervent blues that inspired him early on and more towards the sound of all encompassing Americana. Substituting frayed edges and a tattered persona for the free-spirited swing and sway of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, the new album finds his current outfit, the Tri-State Coalition, to be an ideal ensemble for helping to sustain these heartland hymns.
While hints of gospel can be found in the title track, and a relentless rhythm powers the aptly titled “Rock & Roll Trash,” for the most part Mathus comes across like a man whose soul is on fire, still searching for some kind of redemption that’s just beyond his reach. In some sense, he possesses the same rugged regimen of, say, Dylan and the Band, and yet his feverish vocals and gritty arrangements come across as both authentic and inspired. Indeed, there’s not a single note that sounds anything less than compelling. Ultimately, Dark Night of the Soul could be viewed as Mathus’ new beginning, one that bodes well for all his efforts going forward.
DOWNLOAD: “Dark Night of the Soul,” “Rock & Roll Trash”