Jim White’s new album is out. White, one of my favourite artists, doesn’t have a major label anymore, and couldn’t afford to make the record himself, so appealed to his fans via the Kickstarter scheme. In this lots of people like me pledged money up front, enabling Jim to get into the studio and do his thing. He wanted $7,000 and got $10,000 ($10 from me!), and the record’s out today. It sounds great.
White has a fun backstory, emerging from America’s south deeply confused by the religion that smothers everything and everyone down there. Wikipedia is bang on here:
Michael Davis Pratt (born March 10, 1957) known professionally as Jim White, is a Southern American singer-songwriter and guitarist. White’s music can be loosely described as alternative country, but veers off in different, sometimes experimental directions with occasional nods to Tom Waits and the literary narratives of Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCarthy, and Harry Crews.
I would call him a funny Townes Van Zandt, but the Flannery O’Connor thing is crucial to all: O’Connor’s writing is a strange kind of insane, and White’s music has that (he once released an album called Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus which contained a story regarding said search in the CD booklet).
White has also been a comedian, a fashion model, a boxer, a preacher, a professional surfer, and a New York cab driver.
So there’s a bit of something there.
But White’s albums have tendrils that imperceptibly wrap themselves around one’s attention; and such is the case here, when the haunted reveries of “Chase the Dark Away”, “My Brother’s Keeper” and especially “That Wintered Blue Sky” cast their smoky spell in tints of cello, guitar and piano.
By the end, you’re left with the feeling of having accompanied the singer’s passage to “a state of cockeyed grace”; though as he admits in “Epilogue to a Marriage”, “On the best of days, still there’s hell to pay”.
It’s a dark and sometimes difficult record (his wife left him while it was being made) but it’s so, so important that good, original writers are supported in these all or nothing times (Juliana Hatfield’s last album was made the same way). Bands like Coldplay are great for people who like bands like Coldplay, but they can’t be allowed to dominate to the point where interesting artists have nowhere to turn. It isn’t and never will be either-or, but, well, I don’t know. Jim White is fantastic, in any case, and every album sold will make a difference to him. This isn’t charity either… bah, it’s so hard to write about things you care about so much. Anyway.
You can order here. Or off i-Tunes, I think.