These 13

Jimbo Mathus & Andrew Bird

Wegawam/Thirty Tigers, 2021

http://www.therealjimbomathus.com

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/12/2021

Jimbo Mathus of the Squirrel Nut Zippers and singer/songwriter Andrew Bird have been friends for decades. As a young singer/fiddle player, Bird got his start playing on some notable ‘90s Zippers tracks. As his own career took off, he stayed in touch with Mathus and talk of a collaborative album began in earnest. Finally during Covid, they got together and made a very intriguing record.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Starting off with the very folksy “Poor Lost Souls,” you get a nice combination of both men’s sounds. Bird has a very earnest indie rock/roots sound and Mathus, despite his background with the Zippers, has a full-on folk sound; the combination works modestly well. “Sweet Oblivion” is the perfect example, and it’s one of the most exciting songs I’ve heard all year.

But then the album gets bogged down in slow mediocrity. Songs like “Beat Still My Heart” go on too long and don’t go anywhere! “Red Velvet Rope” comes off sounding like James Taylor, and that’s not a compliment. “High John” sounds like a Mathus solo track, but it’s memorable, even if it has the beat of a slow, broken down metronome.

This is the type of album that one hears in the background of a Starbucks while they’re waiting for their orders. It’s not spectacular; it’s interesting, but the dullness that overtakes it robs it of so much potential that it cannot recover. “Bell Witch” and “Burn The Honky Tonk” are two of the only tracks toward the end of the disc that have any real spark of life and help the record feel more alive than it really is.

Mathus has been leading a revitalized Zippers over the last few years with pretty dismal results, but it’s nice to see him take a step back to the band’s past and team up with an old friend to create something that has probably done both men some good. If only it could’ve been more interesting and a bit livelier.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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