On their first sustained collaboration since the Squirrel Nut Zippers’ Bedlam Ballroom, Bird and Mathus draw from a range of old styles, primarily gospel, with the ease of old friends getting together for coffee.
Somber, spare, and amiable, these 13 songs draw from a range of old styles, primarily gospel. The gap between the Zippers’ heyday and this reunion only reveals how they’ve grown as artists, each taking the band’s anything-goes lessons in opposite directions. Bird’s music is based on flights of fancy, running folk through his looping pedal and whistling like a theremin on top of it.
Mathus, on the other hand, has plumbed old-school country and rural blues. Bird can sound too clever, Mathus not clever enough. But These 13 allows each to compensate for the shortcomings of the other while playing up what makes them distinctive. Their voices and instruments combine effortlessly, like old friends getting together for coffee.