Jimbo Mathus’ new release on the Solo Sounds label, Solo Blues Guitar: Jimbo Mathus Performs Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, is both exactly what its title says, and yet infinitely more. Lucinda Williams fans will groove on the solo blues guitar interpretation of one of her best albums, which is an unbelievable 20 years old this year.
On his facebook page, Mathus says of the project that it’s “solo blues guitar with no vocals, no overdubs, in super hi res sound quality. These are really hard to do but very cool to listen to.” In this era of digital fantasia and the unlimited ability to alter and overdub, playing one solo instrument all alone for the microphone and recording equipment is an unusually challenging feat.
Audiophile aficionados of quality Americana music will thrive on this album, for two reasons. First, the recording quality will immediately captivate your attention. The entire album, along with all of the offerings on this entire Solo Sounds label, are recorded at hi res 24bit/192kHz. Anyone remember the Neil Young controversy over the HD Pono players? The one about whether recording at 24bit/192 kHz is economically feasible and whether there’s a “significant” difference in sound quality between standard digital recording and hi res? If you’re still on the fence about this one, I challenge you to listen to this and NOT hear the incredible difference from other MP3 and otherwise digital recordings. You can literally hear the rub of fingers on the strings. To make an analogy, it’s like taking a picture of a bird on a faraway branch with a 400mm lens that lets in more of the light and surroundings; the focus on the resulting photo is absolutely sharper than anything you’d take with your phone’s tiny lens, even after you crop it smaller. Same concept applies with recording at this soundwidth, even after it’s made available on your standard site.
The other reason to love it is Mathus’ playing, itself. You might think of him as the super fun front man performer for the Squirrel Nut Zippers, and maybe that image overshadows the reality of his adroit and nimble guitar playing skills. But this album will put it all into focus for you. At times you’ll swear there are two people playing two instruments, and the rest of the time you’ll just marvel at the beautiful grace of his skills.
Get your digital copy, here:
Check out the Solo Sounds library here:
Also note, the Squirrel Nut Zippers are working on a new album due out in spring; for info and tour dates, click here: