Not long ago songwriter Jim White served as guide on a vivid, documentary-style tour of southern oddities called Searching For the Wrong-Eyed Jesus. This isn’t that.
Label: MILK PRODUCTS
[Rating: 4 Stars]
Not long ago songwriter Jim White served as guide on a vivid, documentary-style tour of southern oddities called Searching For the Wrong-Eyed Jesus. This isn’t that. Seven Signs-a documentary about the underbelly of Southern culture-diverges from its predecessor’s tendency to cloak characters in anonymity. Legendary Shack Shakers front man J.D. Wilkes and his co-filmmakers do an admirable work of portraiture, capturing the humanity, complexity and wisdom of figures who land along a continuum of piety, mysticism and iconoclasm. A church sign’s misspelled slogan-“There’s no lie in what we beleive”-becomes a central image (both literal and apocalyptic); Wilkes leaves seven signs reading “beleive” at spots he visits, and gathers end times predictions. The point is that it’s exactly lies-or, rather, myths and beliefs beyond proof-that animate the South. In addition to the Shack Shakers’s blistering psychobilly, there are songs from similarly visceral southern gothic acts and casual pickers: even children’s gospel choruses like “Rise and Shine” appear here in rawest form. The film nearly gets off-track with discussions of authenticity (authenticity’s not the question here), taps precious few female voices and features too little commentary from Wilkes himself, but it’s quite a passionate, potent work.