Album: I Got Your Medicine
Label: Self Released
Release Date: 02/24/2017
Putting the soulful horn-drenched sensibility of Kevin Russell together with the rock ‘n’ roll spirit of Jimbo Mathus is a surefire recipe for success, especially when blended with New Orleans R&B. The two serve up a tasty gumbo that blends in honky-tonk, gospel and swamp. It’s one big party with Russell’s quartet, Shinyribs, joined by the Tijuana Train Wreck Horns and the Shiny Soul Sisters. Mathus jumps in too, with his guitars and mandolin. Eleven musicians are listed in the credits.
This is fourth release for Shinyribs and its leader, Russell, following a long stint for him as front man for The Gourds. Russell is the jovial type, with a knack for drawing folks to the dance floor and putting smiles on faces. “I just do what comes natural and what turns me on,” says Russell. “Humor is really important to me in music I love Coasters and Tony Joe White songs; you don’t know if it’s a joke or if they’re serious.” Nonetheless, he and his band put sweat and soul into the sound. Russell wrote nine of the dozen tracks, along with three covers .
Russell’s connection with Mathus developed through a series of somewhat strange events. Russell says he knew he needed to meet Jimbo after hearing Mathus’ Confederate Buddha and initiated a phone conversation. As their friendship grew, they decided to book some gigs together. One night when Mathus was supposed to open for Shinyribs in Beaumont, he failed to arrive on time due to traffic snarls leaving Houston. He showed anyway, was impressed by hearing Shinyribs with horns for the first time, and made a pact with Russell to do an album together.
Some of the material will bowl you over. “I Don’t Give a Shit” might be the best song I’ve heard in several months. It’s a duet of Russell and Alice Spencer, depicting a couple who can’t stand each other but love each other. You can tell they have to restrain their laughter just to get through it. “Tub Gut Stomp and Red-eyed Soul” is Russell’s definition of his musical style and has plenty of Big Easy flavor. “Ambulance” is full of witty lines. Gospel influence colors “Don’t Leave It a Lie” and “The Cross Is Boss.”
Soul and blues are key ingredients too, featured in the ballads “I Knew It All Along” and Toussaint’s “Nothing Takes the Place of You.” “Hands on Your Hips” is reminiscent of Earl King’s New Orleans sound. “Trouble, Trouble” evokes Chuck Berry and they do Hawkins proud in “I Gave Up All I Had.”
“A lot of people are so tightly wound, they can’t let themselves go,” Russell says. “I feel like I can demonstrate to them that you can shake your hips, roll around on the floor, scream and shout, and it’s OK: people will still accept you. It’s just music; relax and have some fun.” Russell is above all an entertainer. Heed his advice.