Regions of Light and Sound of God: Jim James

jim jamesThis one’s a grower, and a pretty subtle one at that. I have come to really love this effort by the My Morning Jacket front man, but before I get into the ‘why’ of it all, let’s get all the pretentiousness of the back story out of the way. From Allmusic:

“In 2008, during a My Morning Jacket concert, front man Jim James fell from the stage and was injured badly enough to spend three weeks recuperating. During that time, artist Gary Burden dropped by and gave him a copy of Lynd Ward’s God’s Man, a graphic novel in woodcuts from 1929. The book moved him. The book is about a young artist who seeks redemption while struggling with personal demons.”


Does it get any more pseudo hippie, quasi religious wack-a-doo than recording an album based on religious woodcarvings from the late 1920’s? What is this anyway, a Bon Iver album?

If you can forget all that (harder than it sounds, actually) and simply concentrate on the music, this is a terrific little album, at the very least the best thing he’s done since 2005’s “Z” (with MMJ). There are no guitar heroics, per se, and not a whole lot of echo on his voice, which makes the whole affair seem more personal and intimate. It’s certainly a quieter album than MMJ’s made since At Dawn, but it also harks back, in texture and sonic experimentation, to “Z”. This is the MMJ I really love, the South’s answer to the Flaming Lips.

It’s spacy, jazzy, funky and…damn, I promised myself I was going to try and avoid using this word…Atmospheric. There’s a lot of piano, a lot of slow burn song introductions, a lot of cascading, dramatic conclusions. His voice sounds virtually untouched by Autotune, but I can’t be certain. At any rate, it sounds more human than most, and that’s a good thing.

I can almost guarantee that this one will be forgotten and overlooked come December’s “Album Of The Year” lists, but it shouldn’t. It’s a fair sight better than David Bowie’s 2013 effort, and for me, at the time of this writing, my 2nd favorite of the year. It won’t stay there; how could it with scheduled albums from Neon Neon, Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips, and more. But it’ll be on there.