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White makes the case for himself, no matter how dark the music

Club Passim, Cambridge, Mass., March 11, 2020

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

John Paul White opined with a glint in his eyes that his songs were not of the uplifting variety. In fact, they were downright dark. How else to explain "The Long Way" with the line "long way home back to you." Or "James," a song inspired by his grandfather who suffered from dementia.

But lest you think that the Alabama native, who was once upon a time one half of The Civil Wars, was all gloom and doom in the live setting, far from it.

Playing solo acoustic (last May when in the neighborhood, he came with band in hand), White yet again made for a pleasurable evening of music.

Due to the circumstances of going it alone, the emphasis was absolutely on the words, and White's often soft, but commanding voice was suffused with the strength to make you want to listen. His soft guitar playing prettied up the songs, perhaps giving them a bit more of a folk edge.

White offered a sturdy reading of John Prine's ultra sad "Sam Stone," about a soldier, who suffered from PTSD and eventually died of a drug overdose. No, this was not feel good music.

White ended as usual with an out of left field selection, ELO's "Can't Get It Out of My Head," saying they were one of his favorite bands. On the face of it, one wouldn't ever associate White and ELO. But with his deliberate approach to the song (although he took it up a few notches well into it), it was easy to see the connection.

Honest with his opinions, White made it clear that musicians were enduring tough times because of the coronavirus with people not so willing to go out in public. White urged the sold-out crowd to be supportive of musicians nonetheless.

With one more strong performance, White more than made the case for himself - no matter how dark they are.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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