Release Date: Jan 27, 2015
Record label: Yep Roc
Genre(s): Bluegrass, Country, Folk, Alt-Country, Americana, Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Progressive Bluegrass, Alternative Folk
Given the backwoods surrealism and shifting musical textures of most of his work, Jim White is not a guy who often comes off as playful or joyous, but those are two words that easily describe White's collaboration with the Athens, Georgia roots band the Packway Handle Band, 2014's Take It Like a Man. White and the Packway Handle Band are mutual admirers, and when White stepped in to produce an album for the group, he brought along a set of bluegrass-influenced tunes he'd written. The project turned into a co-starring effort, and the meet-up brings out the best in all parties concerned.
Jim White vs The Packway Handle BandTake It Like A Man(Yep Roc)3.5 out of 5 stars The concept of artists reaching outside their usual genres to collaborate with others is nothing new. From Lou Reed working with Metallica and dozens of rap/rock mashups best typified by Aerosmith and Run DMC, these partnerships serve to inspire restless musicians to try something different, or perhaps more crassly, make themselves more visible to another audience as Kid Rock’s forays into country succeeded in doing. Some like Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello have made cottage industries out of their multiple hookups with others outside their comfort zones.
As the story goes, Jim White was a producer that had worked with the five-piece Packway Handle Band down in Athens, Georgia. After recording with the band, White became a fan of their upbeat performance and general attitude towards music, so when they approached White to help record their next record, he said, "Screw that, I'm joining the band!"Take It Like A Man is a disjointed affair with a slippery identity. An intended goal seems to be lacking throughout, and with the exception of a few songs, White and the band seem to be on different pages.
Jim White is an eccentric American singer songwriter/guitarist known for his screwball lyrics and delivery. He’s not a nut, but he certainly can be odd in a way that reflects intelligence, humor, gospel traditions, and the lost underground nation from previous decades—and maybe even previous lives. The Packway Handle Band is a bluegrass group from Georgia known for their tight harmonies and spirited performances.
Singer/songwriter Jim White made his reputation on being the Americana scene’s crazy cousin, the quirky guy in the corner who sees his chosen style as a jumping off point into previously unknown territory. So it’s a bit of a surprise to hear White, along with the Packway Handle Band, playing more or less straight bluegrass on Take It Like a Man. Of course, this being White, the “more or less” is pretty important – dig the melodica running through “Smack Dab in a Big Tornado,” the train whistle in “Sorrows Shine,” the subject of “Paranormal Girlfriend” and the batshit insanity that is “Wordmule Revisited.