Jim White Drill a Hole in That Substrate and Tell Me What You See

[Luaka Bop; 2004]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: singer-songwriter, folk, alt-country
Others: Iron and Wine, Calexico

Something I've always found fascinating about musicians is learning about the day jobs they have to support their music. Florida native Jim White has one of the more interesting resumes; White has worked as a New York City cab driver, a professional surfer, and a Milan fashion model throughout his music career. With the beautiful and engaging Drill a Hole..., White's third album, he may not have to rely on such supplementary income for long if it gets the success it deserves.

Haunting and inspiring, "Static on the Radio" begins the album with a stirring story of a man on the road. The song is poignant and melodic, a track that begs to be played several times in a row in order to get the full effect. White's rugged, breathy vocals immediately draw you in; this is not the voice of a Milan fashion model, that's for sure.
While the rest of the album is unable to hold up to the high standard set by "Static on the Radio," it's still a collection of fascinating semi-autobiographical stories told in song, many of which reflect his upbringing in the deep, religious south. White makes use of a large variety of instruments throughout the album, including saxophones, trumpets, flutes, and bongo drums, all of which add to the diverse range of styles White draws from. Country, blues, even hip-hop have clear influences on White in his third album, and it makes for a fascinating blend of music.

Dozens of high-profile artists including Aimee Mann, the Barenaked Ladies, and the Sadies make appearances on Drill a Hole, contributing background vocals, additional instrumentation, and production assistance. Aimee Mann in particular provides really nice background vocals for several of the songs, and her effect on the album is definitely the most noticeable of all the contributors. With friends like these, it's no wonder Jim White was able to put together such a diverse and creative offering.

1. Static on the Radio
2. Bluebird
3. Combing my Hair in a Brand New Style
4. That Girl from Brownsville Texas
5. Borrowed Wings
6. If Jesus Drove a Motor Home
7. Objects in Motion
8. Buzzards of Love
9. Alabama Chrome
10. Phone Booth in Heaven

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