Home Read Classic Album Review: John Hermann | Smiling Assassin

Classic Album Review: John Hermann | Smiling Assassin

Widespread Panic's keyboard player offers up rootsy twangers & mooday janglers.


This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


With Fat Possum, you usually know exactly what you’re getting: A badly recorded (but magnificent-sounding) set of gutbucket blues played an obscure, nearly dead black guy from rural Mississippi. Except this time.

John Hermann is neither black, nor ancient, nor does he seem to be the kind of guy who has a still out behind the barn. In fact, he’s the keyboard player from Georgia jammers Widespread Panic. Here, however, he reins in his hippie influence, getting North Mississippi All Star siblings Luther and Cody Dickenson to back him while he offers up a set of rootsy twangers and moody janglers that fall somewhere between Tom Petty’s crisp pop, Wilco’s shambling majesty and Bob Dylan”s dusky Nashville Skyline. There’s nothing here you haven’t heard before, but Hermann does it well enough to make it seem like you’re hearing it for the first time.