Guitarist/vocalist Jimbo Mathus, founding member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, returned to his Clarksdale, Miss., roots with his Knockdown Society trio.

Guitarist/vocalist Jimbo Mathus, founding member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, returned to his Clarksdale, Miss., roots with his Knockdown Society trio. The band started as a side project during his Zipper days, but it has blossomed into a very real deal. "National Antiseptic," the 2001 Knockdown Society release, showcased Mathus' flair for Mississippi hill country blues. "Stop and Let the Devil Ride" is a stronger album. Mathus' songwriting is stylistically excellent, his vocal work is powerful and the songs, while no more polished than the tunes on "Antiseptic," are arranged with more of a hip feel. Backwoods, gut-bucket blues, very much in the spirit of Junior Kimbrough, define the new album, but they give Mathus his due on the awesome "Champagne Blues" and the slow blues tale "Call the Warden." Mathus' innate feel for this hill country style makes this a superior blues record.—PVV