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Jimmy the Kid stands out in Jimbo Mathus' catalog as his first foray into country and country-rock. Recorded in Como, Mississippi during 2006 and 2007, it features members of the Knockdown Society -- who recorded the excellent Knockdown South and Old Scool Hot Wings -- as well as Luther Dickinson and Olga Wilhelmine Munding, among others. Given those two recordings, this is not only a stylistic departure for Mathus (who spent the previous four years with Buddy Guy), but a sonic one, too. The artist co-produced this with Winn McElroy and Justin Showah; the sound is crisp, warm, and clear. Opener "Good Old Time" walks a line between the Rolling Stones' original version of "Dead Flowers" and the hit single by New Riders of the Purple Sage. "Fallen Angel" is a straight-up honky tonk shuffle with a prominent whining pedal steel. Its barroom companion, "Whispering in the Wings," is fueled by a slightly out of tune upright piano, snare drums, and a walking bassline. The title track is an acoustic-electric stroll between folk-blues and country-rock. "Tell It to the Judge," with its twinned slide guitars, has a distinct Southern boogie flair, while "Little Hand, Big Gun" crisscrosses rockabilly with the Memphis garage R&B of Delaney & Bonnie. "I'm Done" is informed equally by the production styles of Dickey Betts' Highway Call and the Grateful Dead's American Beauty. Mathus has an enviable way with a country ballad; the three included here are arguably the best songs in this lot. "Tenn. Walker Mare" may clock in at just over six minutes, but the manner in which he weds pastoral Southern poetry to mountain folk and the Memphis country tradition (as opposed to Nashville's) is breathtaking. "Check Out Time"'s raw fiddle and ringing upright piano finds the lyric framed between them and a lean funky Telecaster and bell-like pedal steel. Set closer "Hiway at Night" echoes early Ray Price, Carl Smith, and Leon Payne in its words, music, and utterance. Jimmy the Kid is not only an excellent first foray into country for Mathus, but one of his finest records, period.