Album Review

On "Blue Healer," Jimbo Mathus Is Bad-Ass Rockin'

Jimbo Mathus - Blue Healer

Falsetto singing can be lovely and all, but the practice has definitely reached its saturation point among male vocalists. It’s gotten to where a man simply sounding like a man over the course of an entire album seems downright revelatory, which is what makes Jimbo Mathus’ new album (out April 21 on Fat Possum) such a no-bull treat.

Blue Healer is a 12-song collection of rip-roaring southern rock with a pinch of Cajun seasoning. That Mathus is the one presenting such a sturdy, bad-ass LP is somewhat surprising, considering he once rode one of pop music’s most unlikely rocket ships as a founding member of swing revivalists The Squirrel Nut Zippers. If you hated those aggressively peppy Gap commercials in the late ‘90s, feel free to heap some blame on Jimbo’s shoulders.

It’s hard to believe Blue Healer has been concocted by the same artist. But what Mathus has done since falling back to earth has been to stay firmly planted there, patiently cultivating his musical roots as a native Mississippian. On standout tracks like “Sometimes I Get Worried,” “Coyote” and “Ready to Run,” he sounds like a cross between Warren Zevon, Johnny Cash and Elvis Costello, and has assembled a positively scorching backing band that props up even goofy tunes like “Old Earl.”

Blue Healer is an album for drinking moonshine in the woods with your shirt off when it’s real damn hot outside. If someone showed up to such a swampy soiree with wingtips and a martini, he’d either get his ass kicked or be mistaken for a peyote apparition. That Mathus has made music which caters to both extremes is testament to his extraordinary versatility.


Sounds great....I'll forgo the shirtless moonshine drinking thing for the sake of all that is good in the universe!  It appears that his Unholiness Wylie Lama has helped perpetuate the "bad-ass rockin'" in "Chick Singer Bad Ass Rockin."   Nice shorthand though..I'll give Jimbo a listen......and hopefully we can keep the falsetto singing to the Hawaiian islands where it's done without trend and with grace.   I'd dearly love to introduce young falsetto soul singers today to Edwin Starr..."WAR"   

Thanks, Terry! Glad you got the RWH reference. That's a helluva song; of a piece with Jimbo's album.

Mike, You weren't kidding about Jimbo!  I gave him a listen and was blown away!  Great stuff!!   I'll be working on a feature for RWH in a few weeks and will mentioned his new coined term!   

Way cool. Great to see RWH getting the love he deserves

Will get this one for sure, just based on his previous one, 'Dark Night Of The Soul'.  It's solid too.


I thought I'd never heard of Jimbo Mathus until I read a review of his 2013 release "White Buffalo" on this site and picked it up. At first I was unimpressed but as I got used to his voice the album grew on me to the point that when he released "Dark Night of the Soul" in 2014 (again alerted by a review on this site) I picked it up and it was excellent too. Perhaps it was in this second review that I learned he had been a member of Squirrel Nut Zippers which I simply could not believe and had to go check my S.N.Z.'s albums to verify. I was a big fan of S.N.Z. but their sound was so differnt and the vocals sounded like a different person that it's still hard to believe he's the same person/singer.

I haven't a clue what you mean by your comment about "aggressively peppy Gap commericals" since I don't watch TV accept for whatever DVD I insert into it so I haven't seen a commerical in decades. But this guy is the real deal and after reading his bio in Wikipedia I am even more impressed by his history and experience. I am looking forward to this new release so thanks for the heads up. From your review I assume you are unaware of his two earlier albums. You should check them out Mike.

I'm aware he's done plenty since SNZ. It's just what he's best known for.

Cool review. I'm starting to think of Jimbo Mathus as the new Black Crowes. He kinda scratches that same itch for me. Great review. You can hear an interview with Jimbo Mathus and three tracks from Blue Healer on Americana Music Show #249.

Sorry for the duplicate. Web site said there was an error the first time. 

Thanks! And an interesting comparison to boot.