Transnormal Skiperoo

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Mark Schwartz
Jim White reached his 50th year while recording his fifth album, and it's a place that, ten years before, he thought he might never see. The quixotic fortunes of this ex-surfer, ex-Pentecostal, ex-fashion model, ex-taxi driver seemed arrayed against his ever growing older and raising a family of his own, but as White would tell you himself, life can be funny that way. The "transnormal skipperoo" is White's term for this karmically balanced state of affairs, and he's chosen to celebrate it in a very deliberate way, returning self-consciously to the record he made in 1997 in the depths of a depression after a devastating accident - (The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted) ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Mark Schwartz
Jim White reached his 50th year while recording his fifth album, and it's a place that, ten years before, he thought he might never see. The quixotic fortunes of this ex-surfer, ex-Pentecostal, ex-fashion model, ex-taxi driver seemed arrayed against his ever growing older and raising a family of his own, but as White would tell you himself, life can be funny that way. The "transnormal skipperoo" is White's term for this karmically balanced state of affairs, and he's chosen to celebrate it in a very deliberate way, returning self-consciously to the record he made in 1997 in the depths of a depression after a devastating accident - (The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted) Wrong Eyed Jesus!. From his happy rural home in the Georgia woods, White looks back on the humid panhandle blues and meth-tweaked folk that informed his just-left-of-wacko songwriting. Fans will be happy to know that it's a sonic leap easily made by White, who plugs back into those scratchy guitars, electric pianos, drum loops, and plunking banjos with ease. Lyrically, though, it's a brand-new day -- and a great stride for White's songwriting. Once happily and fruitfully obsessed with murder ballads and freak songs, White challenges himself to look beyond these somewhat easy targets. "Diamonds to Coal" and "Crash into the Sun" in particular salute the tiny wonders of the transnormal, where White casts aside the eccentric subject matter to tackle the real improbabilities of maturity and happiness. Never fear, there are a few skeletons in the closet that White gleefully reanimates: "Fruit of the Vine" is a creepy drive-by down addiction's desperate streets, while "Take Me Away" offers an old-fashioned southern gothic tale of hereditary insanity that's just a metaphor away from White's own artistic struggle. With contributions from Ollabelle, Laura Viers, Tucker Martine, and others, this is yet another excellent album by the highly unlikely Jim White.
All Music Guide - K. Ross Hoffman
Jim White tends to take his time between albums -- Transnormal Skiperoo was only his fourth in over a decade, arriving an ample few years after 2004's Drill a Hole in That Substrate and Tell Me What You See. By the time of its release, the Southern-souled transplant and perennial wanderer, who was then fifty, had settled down in a backwoods Georgia farmhouse and was reportedly experiencing "a strange new feeling...after years of feeling lost and alone and cursed." His name for that sensation is the endearingly off-kilter title phrase of the album, but judging from his description it sounds suspiciously similar to contentment. And Skiperoo is certainly his lightest, breeziest record to date, a turnaround from the frequently melancholy Substrate, musically as well as lyrically. That's not meant to imply a dramatic alteration in sound or style: since both sorrow and serenity translate into relatively understated, mellow musical terrain; the shift is a subtle one. Besides, White's always been a philosophical sort, the kind to pick up on the lighter sides of life's tragedies and portray the bitter with the sweet -- there's always a glimmer of redemption in his darkest tales of desperation; skepticism and hope commingled in his homespun gospel mysticism. Contentment hasn't made him any less ruminative, so there are still plenty of dark edges haunting these songs, whether they involve fictional others ("Fruit of the Vine"'s cocksure meth dealer; the tragic train-track suicide of "Take Me Away" -- a story-song in classic White style), his own personal demons (the touching "Plywood Superman"), or universally relatable existential pondering ("Counting Numbers in the Air") -- though it's telling that Skiperoo's most immediately affecting, poignant moment, the troubled-mind lament "Jailbird," dates back to 2001. On the other hand, all of his albums have had their fair share of goofy humor, so it's hardly a shock to hear the self-avowedly cornball "Turquoise House," a rootsy twanger with hilarious '30s-style backup vocals. In musical terms, Skiperoo is more of a continuation from its subdued predecessor than it is a return to the wide-ranging stylistic exploration of No Such Place (although the boisterous singalong "Crash Into the Sun" recalls that album's excellent loop-based rockers.) But White's distinctive, evocative blend of folk, country, gospel, blues, and pop never quite squares with the sum of its components, and as usual there's enough atmospheric sonic tomfoolery (the production this time around was mostly handled by Pernice Brothers Joe Pernice and Mike Deming) and unusual instrumental choices to keep it sounding agreeably, well, transnormal. While it may not be as striking an artistic statement as its predecessors, the general tone of easygoing bonhomie makes Transnormal Skiperoo a decidedly satisfying release, and the simple fact that it's an album's worth of fine new White material is in itself cause for plenty of contentment.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/4/2008
  • Label: Luaka Bop
  • UPC: 680899006927
  • Catalog Number: 90069
  • Sales rank: 137,503

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Jim White Primary Artist
Patrick Warren Keyboards, Marxophone
Mike Deming Conductor, Recorder, Washboard
Joe Pernice Vocals
Tucker Martine Drums, Vocals, Hand Clapping
Glenn Patscha Keyboards, Vocals
Mauro Refosco Percussion
Karl Blau Bass, Horn, Vocals, Hand Clapping
Laura Veirs Vocals, Hand Clapping, Guest Appearance
Byron Isaacs Bass, Dobro, Vocals, Standup Bass
Tony Leone Drums, Vocals
Fiona McBain Vocals
Amanda Kapousouz Violin
Brandon McDearis Drums
Vida Wakeman Guitar, Vocals
Chris Riser Standup Bass
Steve Moore Horn, Keyboards, Vocals, Hand Clapping
Lisa Hargon Bass, Drums, Vocals
Patrick Hargon Guitar
Don Chambers Banjo, Vocals
Technical Credits
David Byrne Spiritual Advisor
Yale Evelev Executive Producer
Glenn Meadows Mastering
Jim White Composer
Andy Baker Engineer
Mike Deming Producer, Engineer, String Arrangements
Joe Pernice Producer
Gail Marowitz Art Direction
Tucker Martine Producer, Engineer
Paul Dalen Management
Tara Anders Communication
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