"Who is this Jimmy Whispers," you'll ask yourself the first time you hear him, whether he's leaping out at you metaphorically from your speakers or leaping out at you literally from the stage during a live performance fraught with physicality and emotion.
It's a good question, who this guy is, and there's no easy answer. He's been called Chicago's "greatest new homegrown musical enigma" by the Tribune's Jessica Hopper, and a "weirdo loner" by himself. While both of those descriptions are correct, neither one's complete. He's an enigma, true, but one who sings directly from the heart about the broadest of human feelings: the need to love and be loved. Yes, he's a loner, but one who spends his free time organizing basketball tournaments to raise money for community nonprofits, and ends his concerts by mashing audience members together to slow dance to Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World."
Jimmy Whispers is a walking, talking, singing, and dancing bundle of paradoxes. Greatest among them, perhaps, is his ability to transform the most seemingly basic melodies sketched out hastily with an electric organ on an iPhone voice message into such a profound racket, or how this dirty weirdo from Chicago managed to insinuate himself into the tradition of great American sentimental balladeers.
His music will make you laugh and cry and dance and, unless you're terminally jaded and hardhearted, it'll make you genuinely feel something. And no matter how many times you listen you'll keep asking yourself, for a multitude of reasons, "Who is this fucking guy?"