Going in blind, crucify me if you will, but I’m unfamiliar with Americana maverick Jim White. Additionally, I’m streamlining due to the backlog and giving this one listen prior to reviewing. Yet, even if my analysis isn’t as exhaustive as other fervent bloggers, I’m bloody loving his latest album Misfit’s Jubilee.
It’s precisely what it says on the tin, a discarded rusty old tin in a desert somewhere. An upbeat roll in a haystack of psychedelic Southern Americana, and a festivity of folk-driven geriatric observation. Yet there’s his trademark, apparently; dark trippy twist of narrative in the depths. Jim White muses US politics, divided state ethos, and national stereotypes. Subjects range from a dope smuggling teenager to Big Foot, and he does it with the professionalism of quart-century experience, and self-confessed “hole of sickness, depression and poverty.”
Multiple-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, Jim, works this personal arse-whipping outing with only the tangibly cohesive musicianship of his long-time drummer Marlon Patton, trusted Belgian sidemen Geert Hellings on guitar and banjo, and Nicolas Rombouts on keys. Recorded primarily at Studio Caporal in Antwerp, it features new songs, plus some older-penned ones, only now surfaced. Put out on Loose Records, it’s out now. To me it’s all new, but I’m contemplating Neil Young jamming with the Pixies as its mind-blowing cogitates flow over my psyche like waves of a resilient dustbowl.
Ruminations are somewhat curtain-twitching but contemporary, and it hardly ceases its brainy grip on the necks of proletarian American orthodox devotees, but does so with the fashion of a perpetual parade of agitated and cynical characters, but oh, joyfully, and with a heartfelt sonic agenda.
The sound is toe-tappingly memorable, maintains upbeat jovial generation X indie-folk-rock, yet smells of vintage. If some moody piano rings out, as it does with The Sum of What We’ve Been, a zephyr of buoyant guitar riff repairs it. There were times when I figured it’d mellowed, like Mystery of You, but it was just building the track. And for that, it rocks!
Through ever-thickening material, straggly kitsch metaphors and uncensored outpourings, it’s perhaps the twanging guitars juxtaposed with samples from authentic US police chases which makes my reasoning for citing the tune, Highway of Lost Hats as the peak of Misfit’s Jubilee. There’s rib-tickling Hollywood narrative, adroitly directed at the carefree insolence in defence of US counter culture of yore. Herein is its niche, a bombast of the direction his nation heads, and comparison of what it could be. It is Born in the USA times a billion, it’s Guthrie partnering with Lou Reed, for a new era.
The finale defines this, an earnest and heartfelt speech, reflecting on quotes from George Washington, poet Emma Lazarus and even Jesus, but after the contemplative, it slides into a fading McDonalds order. Such a nimbly placed, sombre scrutiny, is the conclusion of the Divided States of America, as itdumps you in cold silence gasping for air.
I’m going to have to dive deeper into this impressive torrent of melodic genius, as I figure it’ll be some time before I fully unpick it, and its gist is sussed; that’s when you get the notion, it’s value for your hard-earned pennies.