Friday, June 20, 2014

REVIEW: Jim Mize - Jim Mize

Jim Mize is a guy who's been a songwriter and part-time rock and roll singer for years, an Arkansas singer/songwriter who's apparently now, at 57, ready to become a full-time musician. He's had songs recorded (his "Let's Go Runnin'" was recorded by Blue Mountain on their album Dog Days), and has released three albums over the last 15 years, recorded in his spare time. But he never fully abandoned his career as an insurance adjuster, during which his keen perceptive powers and the time on the road gave him plenty of time to reflect, and plenty to write about. His voice is an impassioned yelp, part Tom Petty, part Springsteen and part Tom Waits.

Here's "Rabbit Hole" - a rollicking vocal workout with a ramshackle garage rock feel to the music:

There's honest emotion on this record - "This Moment With You" and "Eminence Kentucky" are frankly very pretty ballads, the latter with a Roy Orbison-meets-Memphis soul feel. And "Empty Rooms" is sort of heartbreaking, the tale of a marriage that's ended in the form of a description of the vacated house.

There's also hard rocking blues-inspired roadhouse music. With help from Fat Possum's Bruce Watson, Mize has assembled a hell of a band on this record - they raise the tempo and the temperature, and all the solos are like lightning. John Paul Keith, whose album Memphis 3AM was reviewed here, contributes some big, big guitar sounds (and what sound like some good harmony vocals) here. "Need Me Some Jesus" is a gospel-inspired rave-up, and "Eye to Eye" is good country rock with twangy guitar. The best song on the record is "I Won't Come Back Again", with its Hammond organ swells and what sounds like Mize's most inspired, desperate vocal.

Jim Mize at Fat Possum/Big Legal Mess Records

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