My Morning Jacket’s frontman releases second solo LP, graceful as ever.
In 2013, Jim James released his first solo effort, to positive critical acclaim. Regions of Light and Sound of God was a beautifully balanced piece of work, both highly personal and turned outwards, venturing away from MMJ’s charmingly southern jam band sound, into new fields of musical experimentation. Lyrically, he reflected on technology, mortality and spirituality with a light, comfortable touch, factoring in just enough hooks and groove to keep the listener’s attention from dreamily floating away.
James’ distinctive vocal signature and tasteful arrangement skills were already a strongsuit, but this new record proves his might as writer, too. Released just before the US presidential election day, Eternally Even does not shy away from the matter at hand, most notably when James sings «If you don’t vote, it’s on you not me» on ‘Same Old Lie’. While his writing does get more topical and concrete, he keeps returning to the passing of time and mortality, expanding on it at this record’s core, ‘We Ain’t Getting Any Younger’ (parts 1&2).
Jim James’ solo sound could be best described as a funk-infused meditative trance, the high-pitched vocals, strings, and variety of synthesizers often using a bumping rhythm section as counterpoint. There is more often than not a Hip-Hop quality to his drum sounds and patterns, which might have you bobbing your head, unaware, as retro bass sounds and licks might make you slightly nostalgic of simpler times, when music was always played on instruments.
It is this equilibrium between old and new that got to me, from the very first notes of his first album: Jim James’ music is timeless, and his rare ability as a songwriter draws out this confusion in the most pleasant way possible. So that, when you come down from the highest points of ‘We Ain’t Getting Any Younger, pt. 2’, and into the smooth vibraphones and thick guitar tones of ‘True Nature’, you are astounded by the journey you just took. And while you settle in to this new, soothing groove, new sounds begin their ascent, subtly taking you along for the ride.
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