Big Legal Mess Records
Eagle-eyed readers of album credits might have seen Jim Mize’s name on Blue Mountain’s Dog Days record from the mid-’90s, with his song “Let’s Go Runnin'”, but generally the Arkansas native has flown under the radar for the most part, and one thinks Mize likes that just fine. Other “outsider” musicians- your Daniel Johnston, R. Stevie Moore or inscrutable Jandek, they craft their art in relative isolation, filling cassette tapes or computer hard drives with hours of solitary musings. Frequently the result is both indulgent and mystifying for listeners, but for his self-titled release Jim Mize surrounds himself with a cast of like-minded brethren who give the albums nine tracks a sinewy toughness that allows the vision of Mize to breath.
Opening with “Rabbit Hole”, where Memphis rocker John Paul Keith’s stabbing guitar fills provide a perfect foil for Jim Mize’s lyrics, claustrophobic and desperate, that sets the tone for the record. Mize sings as a man who has seen much- as on “I Won’t Come Back Again”- “If you want to find me/follow the blood trail to my heart”- or the dream-like aura of “Drunk Moon Falling”, where love from afar is the protagonist’s only joy. Jimbo Mathus provides the guitar on “Bleed”, a mournful, bitter look back at the damage love can bring. The moody “Eminence Kentucky” rides the pedal steel of Kell Kellum to a sort of Lee Hazlewoodish brooding country-pop- “The moon rises to cry/And the sun wonders why”. This is followed by “Need Me Some Jesus”, which sounds as if Robert Pollard and GBV had a inkling to write a revival song. It totally works.
Jim Mize is not your typical songwriter, but the images he creates, and the people who inhabit his world are all too real, full of pain, regret and in the end, a bitter hope for another world, another life. This is not a record of redemption, but rather resignation, a weariness that is all too familiar to all of us at one time or another. What Jim Mize does- convincingly- is to show us all that we share a common heart- a heart that loves, breaks, and continues on another day, no matter what you might ponder at 3 am. This record is equal parts beauty and anguish, full of raw emotion that makes the listener feel. Feel what is the question- and Jim Mize offers no answers. Brilliant.