wed 21/08/2019

CD: Jim White - Sounds of the Americans | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jim White - Sounds of the Americans

CD: Jim White - Sounds of the Americans

The Southern American singer-songwriter goes off on a tangent with gratifying results

Without the overriding concern for making something self-consciously cohesive, White allows each track to just obey its own rules, so that it feels like we’re glancing into the artist’s sketchbook to view ideas committed to paper at the moment of their conception. A case in point is the Jonathan Richman-like opener, “Speeding Motorcycle” (written by collaborator Daniel Johnston). But just as you settle into the idea of a collection of youthfully hedonistic, pseudo-naïve punk pop, up next is a subdued lounge-jazz instrumental. And so things continue, from quirky spoken-word monologues (the main clue of the provenance of this material) to something like “Suckerz Promises” - a light-hearted Tom Waits pastiche which has the old trooper’s Rain Dogs style, both musically and lyrically, down to a tee. I’d like to think Waits will take it in the celebratory spirit it was intended and not get all litigious on White’s ass.

But my favourite in this ragbag of tunes is “Keep it Meaningful You All” with its echoes of the Velvet’s similar seesawing nursery rhyme waltz “I’m Sticking With You”. In a more musically discerning parallel universe this unassuming gem would be a hit single. In conclusion, we knew White could do melancholic frozen-moment music, steeped in regret and ill-defined longing, like no other American songwriter, so it’s great to hear him less self-consciously saunter off down a few more brightly lit side streets, even if he never explores such areas again.

Watch the video for "If Jesus Drove a Motor Home"

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