Playing in a band in the 1990’s, releasing three albums together – and now recently being back in the recording studio. That’s about the short story of Jimbo Mathus and Andrew Bird, who release their first collaboration outside the Squirrel Nut Zippers. The title of the album is These 13 and it will be released on 5th March 2021.
Jimbo Mathus – About The Artist
James H. Mathis, known as Jimbo Mathus, was born in August 1967 in Oxford, Mississippi. His father and other relatives were skilled singers and instrumentalists. Mathus was already a quite versatile and talented musician playing several instruments in his teenage years. In 1993, Mathus did not only marry his wife, but also formed the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Apart from some hiatus, the band is still active nowadays. Andrew Bird was also part of that band from 1996 to 1998. In the later 1990’s Mathus more and more pursued a solo career in parallel. Wikipedia lists fifteen albums, which have been recorded with Mathus in the lead with different bands or other musicians.
Andrew Bird – About The Artist
Andrew Bird is not new to frequent consumers of Flyctory. I recently reviewed his really interesting Christmas album Hark!. You find some more bio about the Illinois artist in that album review. I gave quite a lot of bio information on that review – even though I have to get in that I did not mention the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Like Mathus, Andrew Bird is a very active artist with frequent publications.
J. Mathus & A. Bird – These 13 – Track by Track
The thirteen song album lasts 45 minutes. The songs have practically been recorded live under studio conditions.
1. Poor Lost Souls
Poor Lost Souls is a perfect opener for the thirteen track trip: a traditional-sounding country track. The direct recording leads to a very handmade and thus also very direct feeling while listening to the music. This is of course valid for the whole album. If you enjoy rather traditional Americana tunes, you will definitely listen to Mathus and Bird with a smile.
2. Sweet Oblivion
While the Poor Lost Souls came with a slow, almost dignified (and also a bit of depressive) touch, Mathus and Bird go for a very different tune here. Sweet Oblivion is very rhythmic, almost feels like a chance to have a dance. Promising track.
3. Encircle My Love
Acoustic guitar and fiddle – Encircle My Love feels like two people just enjoying to do their music, maybe during a warm summer sunset. These tracks have just a lovely, maybe even a bit of kitsch country music touch.
4. Beat Still My Heart
There’s a sound
It’s just a melody
that keeps haunting me
I’m alone and I am free
Beat Still My Heart
Some people need masses of instruments and electronic adoptions of their sound. Andrew Bird and Jimbo Mathus need an acoustic guitar and their voice. Not to forget there is a violin towards the end of the song. Impressive.
5. Red Velvet Rope
Red Velvet Rope is a duet, in which the instruments rather lead to a few highlights. The song is quite close to others on the album so far, but I just enjoy listening to it.
6. High John
The ceaseless rhythm and the singing give High John a touch of very traditional blues sounds. Feels like visiting a nice music club in Memphis – maybe some decades ago.
Jimbo Mathus and Andrew Bird mix blues, country and rock elements in their sound. I really like all genres, but the sound of Stonewall is just a bit too reduced and too traditional to me – I have to say that I can hardly stand to listen to this more than four minute track (second longest on the album). If your personal “good old times” are some decades before mine, I am sure that you will love it, though.
8. Bright Sunny Southland
This track is an instrumental one featuring the accordeon. Would rather see it as a transitional part.
9. Bell Witch
Right next to me,
Right next to me,
Right next to me,
Oh, Right next to me
I see the Bell Witch,
She’s walking, she’s walking
Walking right up next to me.
In my point of view, the Bell Witch connects to the great first songs on the album. Lovely way to have that special, intimate and direct atmosphere. Love to listen to the sound.
10. Dig Up The Hatchet
With Dig Up The Hatchet, Mathus and Bird recorded a mid-tempo, rhythmic track. I feel that this is the best kind of sound they produced on the album. Nice guitar playing as well.
11. Jack O Diamonds
The song feels a bit of upsetting at the beginning. Did the two artist somehow miss the right tunes? The sound of Jack O Diamonds is very rough, sometimes with a touch of of dissonance. By that, it is a somehow strange track, but also one, which stays in your mind.
12. Burn The Honkey Tonk
The sound of Burn The Honkey Tonk reminds me of some Elvis Presley ballad recordings. Nice rock’n’roll emotions with a country touch.
13. Three White Horses
The album indeed closes with some really special tracks. While I felt in the middle part that These 13 could become a bit of boring and monotonous, the final three, four tracks create a very individual touch. Love to listen to the Three White Horses.
J. Mathus & A. Bird – These 13 – Spotify
Enjoy listening to These 13 on Spotify:
J. Mathus & A. Bird – These 13 – My View
If you like electric guitars, modern country or powerful and broadly instrumented blues, you are out. Jimbo Mathus, Andrew Bird and there These 13 are special. You need to be ready to listen to their sound, enjoy the very special atmosphere of their songs. What an amazing incidence that these guys do music together again. You might not dance or party while listening to the album – but the more you might remember it.
Dutch Hotel Reviews
Here are all my hotel reviews related to the Netherlands:
Trip Report Inceptions
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Thank you for giving us a heads up on these two wonderful artists. I just heard today NPR will have some more info on them tomorrow morning, 3-4-2021. Hope to hear more…
Thanks for your comment. Indeed a very special album, very own style 🙂