Jim White - Drill A Hole In That Substrate and Tell Me What You See

Models trying their luck at launching themselves into the music business have either become one hit wonders or disappeared into obscurity after having failed miserably. Just look at Caprice, Naomi Campbell and Nick Kamen. Jim White is not your typical ex male model though. He's a skilful songwriter, master of his instruments and witty raconteur as I myself witnessed when the handsome American opened for David Byrne just a few short months ago.

On Jim White's album "Drill A Hole In That Substrate and Tell Me What You See" we see the world through the eyes of an eccentric good ol' country boy. Like Morrissey and Stephen Jones (Babybird), Jim White has the knack of writing great song titles like "Combing My Hair In A Brand New Style". Owing an obvious debt to Tom Waites and using Beck as a musical template this evokes images of the deep south. With jazzy juxtapositions, a mellow spoken word type vocal, this track is very loose with a nod to contemporary gospel, alluding the criminally underrated Alabama 3 in it's lyrical undercurrent. Using drum machines and fusing a slab of funk renders it relevant to the 21st century. The strong, soulful female backing vocals remind me of a genuine gospel church choir.

More modern sounding is "If Jesus Drove A Motor Home" with its unfussy electronica and flute flourishes. This is very much in the same tradition as Moby and Jimi Tenor. The lyrics take a humorous look at Jesus if he came back. "Would he listen to Bob Dylan?" Jim ponders. It won't offend Christians as the sentiments are affectionate. The bellowing trumpets are unexpected but a lovely surprise none the less. Jim's soft lilting voice aided by piano is eventually lifted by the welcome introduction of brass, synths and jazz guitar on the song "Buzzards Of Love". Jim sings "It ain't nothing, but a big charade" possibly referring to the universal language of love. Jim's lyrics could infact be unconsciously confessional. "Alabama Chrome" is a real undiluted blues number with a rock n roll fire in it's belly. It has the guitar twang of Dwane Eddy coupled a back beat of 50s style rockabilly. There's even a touch of rap during the middle 8 section.

This album showcases Jim White as a true talent and used a varying degree of musical genres when setting up his stall as a gifted, versatile and unique singer songwriter of the highest calibre

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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