JIM WHITE – Misfit’s Jubilee (own label)

Misfit's JubileeMisfit’s Jubilee was released on October 30th, White’s eighth solo album. The picture of the album cover gives a feel for the album, a bit like a trip on a magic swirling ship, an album which is a mix of recent compositions and songs from White’s back catalogue that didn’t make it into previous albums because they were apparently deemed “too extreme”.

Which gives us an album of high energy and fun, but serious fun. White’s known for Southern Rock/maybe modern country, but I picked up a gloriously different mix of styles as I listened – there’s echoes of the Killers in ‘Smart Ass Reply’; of the Stray Cats on ‘Wonders Never Cease’; of classic Indie music in ‘The Sum Of What We’ve Been’; of Southern Rock, and more, in ‘Highway Of Lost Hats’; of soft Grunge on ‘Fighting My Ghosts Again’ (I’ve possibly invented the name, but White’s invented the genre); of stadium-anthem-cum-rap on ‘My Life’s a Stolen Picture’. Do you get a sense? – it’s an album which has cast a spell, drawing from a broad musical library.

But it works as a coherent whole as an album. I understand White usually works with “a hopscotch approach to collaboration… [and a] …bevy of celebrated guest artists”. By contrast, Misfit’s Jubilee was recorded mostly in the same studio in Belgium by White plus the same drummer, guitarist and bass player. It works.

Lyrically, there are some nice touches throughout, but I’m writing this on the day of the Presidential Elections in the USA, the results not yet known, so it feels appropriate to pick the final track ‘The Divided States Of America’. White describes the song “Us freaks, we gotta take up musical arms and start speaking truth to power here. If we don’t, who exactly will?”

The track does it rather well, a dead pan delivery for lines describing a world of homeless men, war horrors, people concerned that “no-one is ever at home anymore/in the Divided States of America”. It’s a place where the streets are empty apart from a preacher on a loudspeaker – but “nothing is ever said”. Over the music you can just pick out words as though from a news report contrasting billionaires, shots, bodies, “our core of decency gone”, Fox News always on. “We could be having such a fine old time…excuse me if feel a little concerned”.

To end, the track pulls together the words on the Statue of Liberty, the words of Washington “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair”, and the words of the Sermon on the Mount which are the words of the best that America can be. It finishes by contrasting them. The track, and the album, close with “What happened to that America?” and a disembodied voice ordering a Big Mac and fries. This is good.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website: https://jimwhitemusic.net

‘The Divided States Of America’ – official video: