By James Calemine
Jim White is an interesting character. Born in Pensacola, Florida, as Michael Davis Pratt during 1957, he grew up listening to gospel music. White’s debut album Wrong-Eyed Jesus! came out in 1997. He’s collaborated with Victoria Williams, Aimee Mann, Joe Henry, Bill Frisell and many others in the past.
White provided music for the 2004 documentary, Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus, which included appearances by 16 Horsepower, Johnny Dowd, The Handsome Family, Rev. Gary Howington and author Harry Crews. White’s 2012 album, Where It Hits You, counts as his sixth studio album. He’s part preacher, storyteller and songwriter on this subdued collection of 11 original songs. Athens, GA. sonic guru John Keane mixed and mastered this album.
Where It Hits You opens with “Chase The Dark Away” a piano-laced ballad that lingers like dark storm clouds with glimpses of cast iron dreams and graveyards. “Sunday’s Refrain” emerges as a diamond in the mine. This underplayed tune really captures White ability to convey subtle emotion with minimal instrumentation. “The Way of Alone” descends like some Appalachian mountain fog with a banjo and pedal steel heard in the distance.
“State of Grace” sounds like a Saturday afternoon backyard jubilee with the acoustic instruments and back-up singers. “Infinite Mind” emits a sawdust floor atmosphere that borders on hallucinogenic. “What Rocks Will Never Know” commences with a warping slide guitar that kicks off a lighthearted, laid-back singalong. “Here We Go!” travels into Colonel Bruce Hampton territory.
“My Brother’s Keeper (Harry)“–complete with a spoken word delivery intro–slides back into a dark atmosphere on this good country song. “The Wintered Blue Sky (Runaway)” contains more of the weird sonic landscape that threads through these songs. This song verifies where White obtained his Southern Gothic image. “Epilogue To A Marriage” carries a spook in this beautiful music and he sings: “On the best of days/Still there’s hell to pay.” Great song.
The final track, “Why It’s Cool”, a banjo-Pentecostal sort of cowboy sermon finds White preaching heartbreak in the 21st century. White’s Where It Hits You deals with matters old as the Bible.