It Still Moves Album reviews.
Release Date: 09.09.03
Record label: RCA
Natural American Rock
by: Imran Siddiquee
It has been two years since Jim James and company released their masterful second album, At Dawn, and it still hasn't left my CD player. But a lot has changed with the band in the last two years, most prominent of which is their new recording deal with Dave Matthews's ATO records. My Morning Jacket made a name for themselves with their reverb drenched vocals (recorded in a grain silo) and Neil Young tinged Americana rock music when their first album, The Tennessee Fire, became popular oversees. Despite the increased production values the sound on the latest album keeps the farmy Wilcoish feeling of the last two.
On It Still Moves Jim James oscillates between slow ballads and full-out jam sessions with complete ease, and his voice has almost as much vocal range as Justin Timberlake. The opening track "Mahgeetah" explodes out of the stereo with "sitting here with me and mine/all wrapped up in a bottle of wine" and never lets up, leaving you breathless waiting for the next track. Unfortunately "Dancefloors" is not as rollicking as its predecessor but it is a slight distraction before "Golden" floats beautifully into the air. The acoustic guitar takes center stage for a while, as James runs through his most lyrically impressive song to date. He has improved his knack for writing deceptively simple lyrics that combine his country voice with a depth that is rarely seen in contemporary songwriting. The style recalls Dylan as much as it does Young.
The next high comes two songs later in the form of "One Big Holiday," which may have been the best American rock song of 2003. It is hypnotic in its use of multiple riffs and speed changes, bringing the impressive musical skills of the band to the forefront. Once again James's voice takes the song to new levels, soaring above the rest of the album. The band is often known and chastised for elongating their songs but with "I Will Sing You Songs," which comes half way through the album, the length is its beauty. It slowly builds into a dreamy landscape, with James's voice once again taking on a new form.With songs like this the band melds a little Radiohead into their Young.
The band then rocks through "Easy Morning Rebel" and "Run Thru," with more of those incredible guitar hooks all leading up to James's solo performance which ends the album. When he finally releases the line, "It wasn't till i woke up/that i could hold down a joke a job or a dream/but then all three are one in the same," you will once again be left breathless.
But it does take a while to get to that point, and though many songs benefit from the long buildup, the album as a whole clocks in at over 70 minutes, and without the consistency of At Dawn, that is about 10 minutes too long. Yet if listened to in pieces the beauty of this album is self-evident and it most definitely claims a spot for the band in the history of great music. 28-Mar-2004 9:23 PM