Jim White is not so much a musician as a storyteller who weaves odd, oblique and original soundtracks. He is a completely obvious "shoe in" to be on David Bryne Luaka Bop label and is in this reviewers humble opinion has produced the greatest music from that quirky stable of artists. It was hardly surprising when British director Andrew Douglas wanted to make a road movie about the Deep South and its spiritual roots he choose White to be his tour guide. The BBC film "Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus" taps into that part of the south of which White is one of its most acute observers. It is that strange world of "white trash" trailer parks, small-town Southern preachers, roadside cafe's called "Where Jesus Is Lord Truckstop Diner", sweet maganolia, whistling freight trains and that deep Southern Gothic which shows like "True Blood" have fed off in their own version of vampire led inspiration. One of White's best songs is entitled "If Jesus Drove a Motor Home" it speaks volumes.
"No such Place" released in 2001 is by the length of U.S. 171 corridor road in West Louisiana the best album that White has produced, although you grow to love them all and on another day a good case could be made for "Drill a Hole in That Substrate and Tell Me What You see". NSP starts with the wonderful "Handcuffed to a fence in Mississippi" a tale of full a poor victim of crime whose Trans am has gone AWOL. It is absolutely infectious with its images of stigmata's and motels. Next up is "The wound that never heals" one of the great rolling murder ballads but with a typical White twist namely that the song is about a murderess who is a victim of abuse, thereby White turns her into a heroine and feels her pain when he states -
She runs from devils. She runs from angels. She runs from the ghost of her father and five different uncles. Blinded by their memory, seared by their pain, she'd like to kill 'em all...then kill 'em all again.
Amazingly despite the subject matter it is hugely catchy song with White's Southern drawl perfect as the narrator. Check it out you will not be disappointed. The incredible "Corvair" a lullaby for a disused car sat in White's backyard, a heartbreaking sadcore ballad with weird sound affects that is reprised later on the album. The hugely commercial "10 miles to go on a 9 mile road" is back on the rockabilly trial, while "God was drunk when he made me" is redneck country with a twist and "Ghost town of my Brain" is excellent. My favourite is a sad 7 minute plus lament "Christmas Day" about someone stranded in the a Greyhound Station near Mobile on 25th Dec 1998 as a result of a bus breakdown. White weaves this brilliantly into a reflection on love and life and the mysterious appearance of a girl leading him to question "Where in the world did you come from my dear? Did some mysterious voice tell you I'd still be here? It is a strange and affecting song, about being left behind and the pain of relationships where White brilliantly observes that "The burden of love is the fuel of bad grammar".
"No such Place" also contains a Tom Waits "Rain Dogs" style version of Roger Miller's "King of the Road" which is almost unrecognisable to the original. Indeed it is a metaphor for this album since it is almost impossible to pigeon hole the brilliant Jim White and his music defies labels. It is not alt country, it is not mainstream, its not rock, its utterly unique and a place that you return to with alarming regularity.