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Where It Hits You

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Album Review

Jim White's music seems to come from a world all his own, a curious place where Flannery O'Connor and Big Star's Third hold sway as key cultural signposts, and with each album he adds a few more details on life in his Southern gothic universe. White's latest collection of missives from his version of the Deep South, 2012's Where It Hits You, is his first full-length project since leaving David Byrne's Luaka Bop label, but if you imagined that being without a successful patron would cause White's art to suffer, your fears were unfounded — this album finds White in typically fine and eccentric form, spinning tales of oddball characters accompanied by music that's often beautiful but also spectral and curiously introverted, conjuring the sound of ghosts drifting through a lonely town at three in the morning. Considering that he also dabbles in filmmaking and visual art, it's no surprise that there's a welcome sophistication in White's music, but there's also a very real avoidance of self-conscious artifice and little that's pretentious; no matter how odd his tales may be, there's a genuine understanding of the idiosyncrasies and strange fates of his characters, and whether he's sharing the story of a morbidly obese sibling in "My Brother's Keeper" or lamenting a relationship that's gone to seed in "Epilogue to a Marriage," there's a welcome honesty and authority to this music that's affecting. However, as much as atmosphere plays a key role in Where It Hits You, sometimes White seems more interested in creating a shadowy mental picture of his universe than in crafting a melody, and the second half of Where It Hits You suffers from too much meandering and too little focus. But when White hits the target — and he does so more often than he misses — he's still a singular musical artist with a singular vision, and he's not even close to running out of stories on Where It Hits You. With any luck, we'll be receiving communiqués from Planet White for many years to come.


Born: March 10, 1957

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Southern Gothic singer/songwriter Jim White grew up in Pensacola, Florida, enamored with the sounds of the white gospel music he heard on the Gospel Jubilee television series. After spending his formative years on the outskirts of a deeply Pentecostal community, he entertained a career as a professional surfer, followed by a stint in Milan as a fashion model. A bandsaw accident that resulted in a maimed left hand seemed to end White's hopes as a musician, but after writing a collection of simple...
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