Johnnie Edward Matthews III leads his new band, Elim Bolt, to enviable heights on Nude South.
Giving a primarily side stage musician the chance to be front and center will, once in a very rare while, stun you with a thing of beauty. Nude South is this statement's definitive case in point. Johnnie Edward Matthews III leads Elim Bolt through seven songs that are all richly textured and informed by seemingly the entire canon of American music. There's not a song or moment that seems out of step on Nude South; everything is exactly where it should be. Balancing Western campfire aesthetics with power pop jangles is a difficult trick to pull off but Elim Bolt navigate those waters (and more) with ease.
Nude South's pinnacle moment comes roughly halfway through the record with the rollicking "Farm Kid", a song that would've been in my top songs of 2012 had I heard it in time. "Farm Kid" exudes the defiant spirit that defines Nude South, an album that radiates with a beauty and sound that's distinctly American.