The idiosyncratic Jim White – whose music is suffused in the dark Southern literary tradition as much as alt.country (more alt than most alt.country) -- was the central figure in the remarkable doco Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus as he traveled around backroads and broke-down townships ruminating on Christianity and country music.
A troubled man for troubled times, and now – in his mid 50s – even more so.
While recording this his wife walked out “into the arms of a younger man” so the emotional fallout and self-doubt squeezes through most of these lowkey tracks.
Even when brass players wooze in (Sunday's Refrain) or things sound absurdly upbeat (What Rocks Will Never Know) there's deep analysis going on. He doesn't sound convinced things “will be alright with me” on the banjo-plucked and country-Dylan State of Grace.
Infinite Mind (“let's sleep in the poison ivy”) sounds like the offspring of a Beefheart/Waits experiment and Loudon Wainwright's sprightly folk, and Here We Go is Flight of the Conchords from an alternate universe where Frank Zappa and David Byrne control the airwaves.
Despite its circumstances, there's gentleness here (the folksy My Brother's Keeper) and typically White keeps you guessing with odd sonic touches – and offers a naked Epilogue to a Marriage which opens with off-kilter piano.
Sad, strange and courageous, and it hits you.
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By Graham Reid, posted