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Jim White

A Funny Little Cross to Bear

(Luaka Bop; US: 21 Oct 2008; UK: Available as import)

This live EP gives listeners a chance to hear Jim White outside of the studio. Away from his lush albums, his songs are more stripped down and revealing, as we see on the almost unrecognizable version of “Alabama Chrome” here. Played solo, the song is a heartbreaking blues number showing off White’s fragile and textured guitar playing.


On “Jailbird” and “Plywood Superman”, backed by a small band, White’s voice is much clearer and more full-bodied than on his records. The ease with which he plays these songs and his between song banter—which ranges from funny and self-deprecating to earnestly hopeful—give us a Jim White we don’t see on the records. This isn’t Jim White the songwriter. It’s Jim White the performer, the storyteller, the quiet show stealer. Even the funny bar tune “Jim 3:16” works on here since Jim puts so much heart behind the tongue-in-cheek lyrics that it avoids being merely kitsch.


This short offering is a great introduction for new fans, and a great reminder for old fans about what makes White’s music work so well. Luaka Bop might consider a full-length live record from Jim in the future. Because this one doesn’t sound like a holdover disc at all. It sounds like a great new piece to an already great discography.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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