THE EVER-ELUSIVE AMERICANA MAVERICK JIM WHITE RETURNS WITH HIS MOST UPBEAT, HALLUCINOGENIC RECORD TO DATE
WINTERVILLE, Ga. — Jim White is known for his catalog of dark ruminations on all things Southern. His latest outing, Misfit’s Jubilee, out October 23, 2020 on Fluff & Gravy Records, features a nonstop parade of manic, blue-collar conflagrations exploring realms dark and light, mystic and mundane, cynical and heartfelt; all presented within a buoyant, hook-laden sonic framework.
The album’s raucous opener, “Monkey in a Silo,” provides a delirious peek into the drug-addled psyche of a teenage dope smuggler. From that ignominious jumping off point down the rabbit hole we go, pin-balling through a maze of quirky, marginalized characters jubilantly embracing various stages of existential undoing—who knew falling to pieces could be so much fun?
And yet nestled comfortably amidst the high-octane sturm und drang of Misfit’s Jubileelie several sanguine jewels: the ebullient ’80s indie folk-rockesque “The Sum of What We’ve Been” and the moody, piano-driven “Mystery of You” come breezing in as bona fide crowd pleasers, dispelling any thought of relegating White to some narrow, fringe-artist category.
White is widely known for his intricately layered, highly cinematic production values (his songs appear in numerous film and TV scores — Breaking Bad and last year’s feature film El Camino among them), and his novelistic eye for detail is fully on display here in the darkly comedic “Highway of Lost Hats.” Featuring a lovelorn loser on the run from the law, White juxtaposes samples from actual U.S. police chases against a steady stream of Southern rock clichés. “Highway of Lost Hats” is a sonic carjacking veering recklessly across several major genre lanes, rendering it more a short noir film than a song — something to be watched, but with one’s ears, not eyes.
Plunging headlong into Misfit’s Jubilee one central truth emerges — the further White dives into the material, the deeper said material gets, culminating with the closing couplet of epic showstoppers. First comes the sprawling kitsch of “My Life’s a Stolen Picture” (replete with stadium anthem chants and shout-outs to Bigfoot), but the ribald mood is quickly displaced by the most overtly political song on the record, “The Divided States of America.” A scathing indictment of the sorry state of affairs in his homeland, White’s deadpan delivery brilliantly underscores the banal evil at play presently in the U.S.
“Yeah, it’s time to call bullshit on all that nonsense,” White says from his home in rural Georgia. “Us freaks, we gotta take up musical arms and start speaking truth to power here. If we don’t, who exactly will?”
Recorded primarily at Studio Caporal in Antwerp, Belgium, this record marks a departure from White’s usual hopscotch approach to collaboration — no bevy of celebrated guest artists and studios scattered across the globe this go-round. No, it’s just multi-instrumentalist White, his longtime drummer Marlon Patton, plus trusted Belgian sidemen Geert Hellings (guitar/banjo) and Nicolas Rombouts (electric and stand-up bass/keys.) The pared-down chemistry on display here lends Misfit’s Jubileea sonic integrity that far exceeds any of White’s previous efforts.
Misfit’s Jubilee draws from an array of original songs penned by White over the span of several decades — scattered among the recent compositions are songs back-burnered in previous epochs by White’s major label handlers, who’d deemed them too extreme for his “brand.” With no such middleman constraints this go-round, in Misfit’s JubileeWhite has found the perfect vehicle to unleash his twisted take on Southern folk rock. As White’s protagonist in the song “Wonders Never Cease” defiantly declares, “A motel’s as good a place as any to let your demons fly!”
Amen, Brother White. The Americana maverick has let his sonic demons fly herein, setting the skies fully ablaze, like some LSD fueled 4th of July fireworks spectacular. Get ready to be dazzled.
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