CD Review – Jimbo Mathus & the Tri State Coalition “White Buffalo”
With a strum of the mandolin, Jimbo Mathus kicks off his latest collection of tunes with the epic “In The Garden”, touching on the ever burning battle between good and evil Mathus’ welcomes listeners to the White Buffalo. This latest record with his Tri State Coalition delivers a diverse batch of songs with enough rock, blues, country and folk to keep everyone enthralled. Loaded with Southern imagery the songs on this record are a testament to Mathus’ writing abilities as he vocalizes about what he knows best.
Like all the albums before this, Mathus refuses to stick to a set template with his song writing. While his songs traverse all over the musical landscape, one thing for sure is they will all be good. White Buffalo takes the listener from song to song introducing 10 individual tunes that stand on their own, but when you listen to them as a whole it becomes one damn fine piece of work. American and roots music are nothing new to Mathus and when you listen to “Tennessee Walker Mare” or “Useless Heart”. The rocking “Fake Hex” would fit nicely in Chuck Berry’s catalog of tunes and “Poor Lost Souls” could pass as classic Appalachia. The brooding “Run Devil Run” takes the album into a darker direction with swampy blues licks and chunky rhythms; this track gets better with each listen. The tune “Hatchie Bottoms” is a testament to what Mathus does best. Heavy on piano, he paints a detailed mental picture about family and life in the South. Full of keyboard and jangly guitars, “(I Wanna Be Your) Satellite” is an exhibition of true Southern soul. The gem of the record is the title track, “White Buffalo”. An all out auditory assault, this psychedelic gem is some of the heaviest music to come from Mr. Mathus. Blistering guitars from Matt Pierce lead the way as Jimbo wails about the White Buffalo, “he ain’t dead, but he’s layin’ mighty low”.
This latest addition to the vast Jimbo Mathus musical library may be his finest. While his lyrical output continues to amaze, his band the Tri State Coalition is what takes this record to the next level. Pierce’s guitar playing is rivaled by few; Eric Carlton provides the soul on keyboards and the occasional accordion, while the rhythms of Ryan Rogers (drums) and Terrance Bishop (bass) are the backbone. Mathus has assembled a band that knows what he is thinking and then takes the music there before Jimbo can tell them to do so. Even though 2013 has just begun, White Buffalo should find its way onto many “Best Of” lists at the end of the year. I highly recommend adding this record to your music collection.
Jimbo Mathus & the Tri State Coalition – White Buffalo (Fat Possum Records)