Saturday, March 3, 2012
Jim White - Where it hits you review
There is a back story that goes with this record which will be mentioned in every review you read which is essentially White's wife left him during the recording of this record. I'm pained to mention this because I feel that's none of my business but it also might colour the perception of what is an excellent record. The record is certainly laced with melancholy but not consumed by it so don't get the idea it's one big bummer. However, for me, the more interesting story is that White no longer has a record label and used donations from fans through Kickstarter to get the record finished. Free to pursue his muse anyway he wished Where it hits you is nothing if not diverse with upbeat rockers, jaunty folk reveries and dark country soul ballads.
White has always been a purveyor of electro-fused Appalachian music with a vein of sadness but what I really enjoyed about this record was the freedom you can hear in his voice. His falsetto on the funk infused Here we go! sounds like the most free and fun White has ever sounded and that sense of emancipation suits him. Slower tracks like Chase the dark away and Epilogue to a marriage gently glide by playing to White's established strengths as a troubled troubadour. However the greatest song here is the haunted That Wintered Blue Sky, a song that exists on a minor piano figure and a sinister bass line that lurks in the shadows of a tale of regret and loss. The chorus sticks with you
Should the highway rise up to swallow you whole
Remember nobody never got nowhere - nowhere alone
It's probably the best song he's written since the seminal Still Waters and a reminder of just how great a songwriter he can be. For all the turmoil on the record (there is a lot), it ends with the low key Why it's cool, where White seeks to assure his listener that everything's going to be ok. Maybe he felt the need to do this given the back story of the record but White needn't have bothered, it sounds like he's doing just fine.