Release Date: Nov 4, 2016
Record label: Capitol
The My Morning Jacket frontman is back with a follow up to his 2013 debut solo release Regions of Light and Sound of God. Jim James is an artist whose work is clearly born of deep and varied influences, a man who takes his music seriously and for whom emotional resonance is a key anchor. The impressive Regions brought us scattered fragments of dreams over dubby, propulsive beats, warm bass, fuzzy guitar, and echoing synth.
The two-part "We Ain't Getting' Any Younger" offers a long, proggy instrumental intro that gives way to a funky exhortation to "…forget this ever happened/And let a new world start again/Peace ripped into pieces/We gotta put it back together again." "True Nature" offers a respite from the shadows with a swinging Nelson Riddle-esque horn chart, which gives way to spiky, nocturnal funk. "In the Moment" is a dubby, funky pop tune, with Gabriel's multi-tracked saxophones and a trumpet adding earthy jazz to the drifting strings and synths sonic. The title-track closer is an airy, almost pastoral ballad about emerging from lost love without regret or recrimination.
As frontman of My Morning Jacket and collaborator in various Americana side projects, Jim James has made music synonymous with escape: rollicking and dreamy soundscapes, loose themes of nature and spirituality, a voice that nearly curdles with sheer abandon. Eternally Even, his second solo outing, plants him dead-center in the rubble of modern sociopolitical rot—common ground for artists making much of today's best music, but a strange new world for someone more suited to open plains and yawning superhighways. The result is an album steeped in textures of drone and tones of dismay, with a sort of ramshackle grit tuned to frequencies of urgency and naïveté.
The idea of a Jim James solo career was slightly perplexing at first. My Morning Jacket is a band in a true, old-school sense—now with a fixed lineup, any character in which would be hard to replace—but Jim James is the sole songwriter, and it has always been his vision driving them. What, exactly, was he leaving out? Yet as 2013’s Regions of Light and Sound of God suggested and his new record Eternally Even confirms, there are other ways to wield his hardly-of-this-earth voice, other ways to meld genres within his idiosyncratic hybrid of American music—music that wouldn't quite fit in the MMJ framework, but which needs to exist nonetheless.
Jim James is primarily, and justifiably, thought of as the frontman of My Morning Jacket. It’s only fitting, considering he founded the band in 1998 and has been spearheading the popular rock band for seven albums. However, during a brief fallow period for the band, James put out his first solo album, Regions of Light and Sound of God. Evidently, James got a bit of a taste for it, because he’s back with his second solo venture, Eternally Even.
For nearly 20 years and through seven studio albums, Jim James has led My Morning Jacket through a whirlwind of psychedelic Americana experimentalism, in many ways out-Wilcoing Wilco. The band’s music has gradually grown bolder and more innovative over the years, and you could make a case for James’ brief solo career being a sort of microcosm of this kind of stylistic shift. James’ first solo album, 2013’s Regions of Light and Sound of God, has an idiosyncratic, meditative vibe to it, but there’s definitely song structure at work.
Soulful solo album from the My Morning Jacket frontman As frontman for Kentucky rock / country / psychedelic / kitchen sink band My Morning Jacket, Jim James has consistently pulled the rug out from under his fans’ feet with his relentless commitment to musical exploration. So it should be no revelation that his new solo record comes as a bit of a surprise, despite feeling like a natural turn in his career path from cult favourite to hairy hero of America’s musical elite. ADVERTISINGinRead invented by Teads .
"If you don't vote it's on you, not me," Jim James sings on his second solo album. It's an election-year entreaty geared towards too-pure leftoid lintheads, but the song is no screed, befitting a guy whose music usually turns inward. James floats his humidly ethereal soul mumble over seven minutes of a languid beat, cottony strings and chill organ bleat.
My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James has spoken of his intention to release his second solo record to coincide with the US election. Which suggests, on reflection, a narrower field of vision than Eternally Even provides. So broad is it in human scope that occasionally it loses focus completely. Make no mistake though; there are some truly beguiling moments.
Jim James has followed one of the more curious paths from respected frontman to enigmatic pop figure in recent memory. For one, the cultish icon of James might have peaked back in 2003, on the heels of My Morning Jacket’s prime LP, the recently reissued It Still Moves. But that was still several years before the band would spend a summer with Bob Dylan and Wilco, fly on the wings of owls with a CIA agent for five and a half million Sunday-night Fox viewers, and launch James to the level of visibility and respect necessary to earning Questlove’s nod to sing him down the aisle.