Self-confessed fringe dweller he may be, but Jim White has delivered music and songs over the past 20 years that make us welcome him readily into the contemporary heart of the Americana community.
He's back with his first solo release in five years and Jesus - the name features in his 1997 Release, Wrong Eyed Jesus (The Mysterious Tale Of How I Shouted) - appears again this time round. Essentially, and pleasingly, Waffles Triangles and Jesus is as mercurial as his earlier works, and there's no point in trying to tax your brain to find a category for the music from the man who has been, among other roles, a New York taxi driver, surfboard laminator and model.
This, his sixth solo studio album, then is another tantalising and deliciously non-conformist concoction, reflecting on an existence that's had despair and doubt in fair measure, as well as hope and persistence. You don't know what's coming next and when it does, it proves satisfyingly intriguing, so you keenly tune in for more surprises, which are not in short supply.
Opening track, Drift Away is slow burning with a reference to a tornado in the first 90 seconds and then the jaunty and folksy-like, Long, Long Day again has a meteorological connection when White mentions a hurricane. Playing Guitars and Earnest T. Bass At Last Finds The Woman Of His Dreams are whimsical hoedowns - wrygrass, maybe? - when his Athens, Georgia cool, rootsy band mates crack on stirringly in full flight mode.
The radio friendly, Here I Am is a gorgeously warming track with the singer trying to make sense of it all, perhaps going the wrong way at a crossroads in a bid to find the promised land.
Silver Threads is inspiring and heartfelt with the brass section adding sparkle and light to a track about life, where the silver threads can "mend a broken heart." As White quietly reflects: "If you go down to the station / and find me standing there / perhaps, it means at last / the past has been repaired."
White's determination to keep you guessing is to the fore on Reason To Cry with its melodic twists and turns: hushed in parts and then roused by stonking, fiddle-infused country.
All in all, Jim White - with Dead Rock West and Holly Golightly in hugely helpful roles throughout - has conjured up a glistening collection. He is a superb wordsmith, storyteller and thinker who offers up songs that he hopes might "resonate" beyond his own psyche "to find a way into the hearts of others." He succeeds in that with this album.
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