Jim White Drill A Hole In That Substrate And Tell Me What You See

Jim White Drill A Hole In That Substrate And Tell Me What You See
With his previous albums, especially the landmark debut, Wrong-Eyed Jesus, Jim White successfully gave the impression that he was living in a different time and place from the rest of us. He possessed the eye of a great novelist and a musical sensibility as elusive as a jackrabbit. Perhaps that’s why every label turned White down before David Byrne thankfully took a chance on him. Now a cult phenomenon, this latest effort is another stunning collection of dark narratives from a new, weird America. Each of the ten tracks could be a film, with White playing the lead character — a shape-shifting hustler who one minute is "Combing My Hair In A Brand New Style” and the next lamenting "That Girl From Brownsville Texas.” As always, there is also a strong undercurrent of sin and salvation running throughout the album, with the singer never sure which side he’s on. In some ways, White’s songs could be considered an idealised view of "the dirty South,” but for most of us who can’t say we’ve fully experienced it, if the reality is anything close to how White sees it, it’s a complicated and downright scary place to be. Praise must also be given to producer Joe Henry, who turns in another vast, multilayered soundscape to accompany White’s hushed tones. There is also a strong Canadian contingent on board, from the Sadies, Oh Susanna and members of Barenaked Ladies. But the real stars are still White’s songs, many of which will be the best anyone writes this year. (Luaka Bop)