Boy, I love creepy music. Not the silly teenage pentagram tattooed faux gibberish of legions of metal bands and mall Goths, but rather that sort of music that makes perfect sense in the dark, late at night, listening to candle wax drip. When I first encountered Jim White playing an instore around the time of the release of his first record Wrong-Eyed Jesus, he was performing a song entitled “A Perfect Day to Chase Tornados” and I was hooked. Sounding like a deranged hillbilly hipster, (part Gram Parsons, part Jack Kerouac), White makes creepy music deluxe. Don’t believe me? Spin the opening cut on the new record, “Handcuffed to a Fence in Mississippi”. It’s a surprisingly happy ode sung by a man who is watching the best parts of his life in flight as he’s bound to a fence. With great production by Morcheeba, the song bangs and echoes around in your head — hell, just call it hick-hop. He follows it up with “The Wound That Never Heals” chronicling the deeds of a Black Widow bride (you know, girl meets boy, boy falls for girl, boy falls into river wrapped in a movie theater curtain). See a pattern here?
But rather than getting locked into a sort of novelty neverland, that area of music where the Legendary Stardust Cowboy and moments of Robyn Hitchcock’s output are found, White instead comes across as a perceptive, if somewhat strange, storyteller. “Covair” will tear your heart out, as will the monotone rendering of Roger Miller’s “King of the Road”. It’s no mistake that he records for Talking Head David Byrne’s label — both share a slightly off-center view of our humble planet and its inhabitants. I don’t know if creepy is your cup of tea, but if you want something that makes ya dance and grimace at the same time, Jim White is your man.