Jimbo Mathus: Blue Light

Written by Tom Speed

July 17, 2012

In some forms of meditation, there is a state of enlightenment and bliss in which the vision of a floating blue light centers in the mind’s eye.  This blue light is thought by some to represent the soul itself, or perhaps the manifestation of consciousness. On Jimbo Mathus’ latest release, an EP called Blue Light, the title track might refer to a run-in with the law and the attendant blue lights in the rearview mirror. But it might just as well refer to an encounter with the transcendental.

Mathus has made a career out of delving into and living within the mythology of the Deep South. Jim Dickinson called him the “singing voice of Huck Finn” and he has proudly carried the moniker of Captain Catfish and the Confederate Buddha as well. With Blue Light, Mathus and just a few compatriots inhabit all the nooks and crannies of that mythical world in just six tracks, squeezing the marrow from the bones of blues, soul and country to brew a stew that carries with it transportational qualities.

Take a strong pull of that brew, and Mathus serves as your redneck shaman spirit guide, dropping down in various places along the space/time continuum to visit roadhouses, juke joints and back roads. The title track is a rollicking incantation lifted by sweet pedal steel sounds, honky tonk piano and a soaring guitar refrain. “Shackles and Chains” summons a Staxian groove with its pumping organ riff. “Fucked Up World” is a chugging shuffle of rollin’ and tumblin. Elsewhere, we visit spooky atmospheric soul (“Ain’t Feeling It”) and plaintive honky tonk pleading (“Burn The Honky Tonk”). “Haunted John” is roadhouse romp with a New Orleans setting. With just six tracks, there’s not a wasted note anywhere or a hint of filler.

Recorded in Water Valley, Miss. and issued on 10” blue vinyl as well as digital formats, Blue Light is somehow both raw and refined, and a fun peek into the mind of this mystical musical character known as Jimbo Mathus.

 

Blue Light is out now on Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum.