Jim White has teamed up with Dan Nettles to create Sounds of the Americans, an epic, eclectic 16 track album that juxtaposes underscored narration with entirely instrumental numbers.
The album opens with a cover of Daniel Johnston’ s ‘Speeding Motorcycle’, complete with ramshackle guitar and joyful vocals. The obvious imperfections of the production make for a charming opener, although fans of this number will be surprised by the sudden change in musical direction brought by the second track, a Miles Davis-inspired instrumental called ‘This Little Girl’ that juxtaposes jazzy double bass lines with the off key tinkle of a toy piano.
Much of the album follows on from the recent monologues-set-to-music tunes of the Bright Eyes effort The People’s Key (although White initially released his album online in 2010), featuring both male and female narrators telling domestic tales whilst White’ s music builds beneath.
Those prepared to invest in the long listen required by the collection may become utterly engrossed in the stories on offer, whilst others may be frustrated by the wide variety of styles in the mix. The album dabbles between so many genres that its own identity suffers as a result; one wonders who White himself wants to be, and what he is truly trying to say.
Words: Frankie Ward