Jimbo Mathus & The Tri-State Coalition
Dark Night of the Soul
A voice falling into perdition reaches up to us -- it's former Squirrel Nut Zippers vocalist Jimbo Mathus. He sounds like an anguished Tom Waits, and as he reaches into our heart with Dark Night of The Soul he begs someone to save him from perdition. A rising guitar and delicate drum work swoops down to rescue him, and we hang on his other hand as we bathe in retribution and land desolate on the doorstep of heaven. That's just the start; these twelve tracks guide us through a devilish night of drugs and abandonment and meth deals gone bad: it's a modern country music every bit as demon-filled as Father Hank Williams's struggles. "White Angel" lifts us from the muddy ditch earth, into the sky, but then we slip and spin down to even lower depths even as we are torn from any hope of personal salvation. Then there's "Rock and Roll Trash", where Mathus sounds like the bastard half-brother to Bruce Springsteen who got a cheaper guitar but better lessons as he cruised The Boulevard. Every track here ignites imagery of sin and missed salvation and when we get to the seventh track, "Burn The Ships," not even Neil Young could do a better job of soul-ripping, and irony drips from his vocals even as he reimagines an old railroading ballad with "Casey Caught The Cannonball." Blues, country, rock and roll, it's all there and like a good gumbo or chili, the longer it sits the better it tastes.