Pensacola-bred drifter and barfly prophet Jim White navigates between the sacred and the profane, spinning rich yarns about Jesus in a motor home, lovelorn religious conversion, voodoo hairdos and haunted, swampy badlands. Drill A Hole is magnificent, with ace production by White and studio whiz Joe Henry that weaves the singer's voice in shrouds of eerie pedal steel, acoustic fingerpicking (guitar dynamo M. Ward contributes some lovely bits) and some atmospheric snippets that sound like field recordings from a little kid's Fisher Price tape deck. From Mary Gauthier's seasoned purr to Aimee Mann's strung-out sighs, right-on guests add eclectic charm, although the Barenaked Ladies' contribution, Alabama Chrome (a euphemism for duct tape), is too reminiscent of Gordon's The Flag. White's storytelling is strikingly detailed, and his fusion of ramshackle country, spooky blues, Appalachian folk and avant-pop evokes Tom Waits swilling moonshine in an abandoned dinghy in the Deep South.
Jim White joins Wilco at the Mod Club Tuesday (August 3) and goes solo at the Rivoli Wednesday (August 4).