artist: jim james
album: regions of light and sound
of god

label: ato/red
genre: digital rock
My Morning Jacket's evolution from empty grain silo singalongs to a polished studio powerhouse has been well documented. Starting with 2005's Z, they experimented with instruments old and new, and pushed the limits of a rock song. Each album has a had a different feel and direction (see 2011's fantastic Circuital) but one feature remained constant: Jim James.

Hands down one of the best voices of our modern time, Jim's solo album Regions of Light and Sound of God, is just as experimental, if not more so, than his MMJ records. James was supposedly inspired to write this album by Lynd Ward's 1929 novel God's Man. It's strangely digital, with an open, slightly cold atmosphere, and that voice floats above it all.

Contrarily, the opening track, "State of the Art," warns of the technological shackles of today, and predicts that "the powers going out." If you listen closely to his voice towards the end, the vocal "feed" degrades, distorts and dissolves into the music. It's one of the more impressive uses of effect on a record I have heard in some time.

James' strength as a songwriter is obvious throughout, "Know Till Now" (killer outro, dig), "Dear One" and the semi-mainstream single "A New Life" are all wonderful songs that will make you forget all about the lack of the band. They are made all the more impressive by the fact that James played the majority of the instruments himself. He shows a softer side on the back half of the LP, but the songs are by no means weak. On "Actress" he harmonizes with himself against the fakes, "All is Forgiven" gets dark with a group a unsettling keyboard melodies, and it's just perfect. The strange "God's Love To Deliver" is the satisfying end to this record.

This is a great listen for fans of My Morning Jacket, obviously, but it has a quiet confidence and creative arrangement that sometimes seem to surpass band, and push James light years ahead.


10 UMO