This ‘My Morning Jacket’ review was written by Eleanor Wallace, a GIGsoup contributor.
Though ‘Evil Urges’ and ‘Circuital’ to most MMJ fans are like feasts, unwavering in rock genius, ‘The Waterfall’—their 7th studio album—is like a re-birth. Granted, the tracks have more of a common sound, or ‘flow’, than those of previous albums; you won’t find tracks that are so distant in personality like ‘Librarian’ and ‘Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt. 2’ that they could be two different bands. However, Jim James and his Kentucky-bred group haven’t created an ‘easy listening’ album either. Recorded in Panoramic House on Stinson Beach, California, the guitar-heavy album boasts a number of fantastic tracks that seem elegiac to this beautiful setting, blending rock, country and psychedelic soul in one encompassing journey.
The opening track ‘Believe (Nobody Knows)’ sets us up in James’ mind frame – strongly spiritual but with a deeply-anchored belief in the power of ordinary people. He is known to meditate – both a religious and non-religious practice encouraging self-improvement, and has a belief in the power of music in moving people to change. All of this helps us to understand the album’s themes of nature, form and love, all connected by this idea of “the waterfall” as a lifeline; everything moving together to one denouement. The wonderful second track ‘Compound Fracture’ – a hopeful, animated celebration of youth and its possibilities – is the real beginning; the start of the cascade.
We hear of love lost in the brutally blunt ‘Get The Point’, where James sings “So I’m trying to tell you plainly how I’m feeling day to day / And I’m so sorry now that you ain’t feeling the same way”. The tone continues in ‘Big Decisions’ – the deceitfully upbeat single – where he bluntly sings “I don’t quite feel like faking it again tonight”. James’ voice may be soothing in tone, but be sure that he can exhibit a certain insensitivity that can pierce. His impressive range comes to light in ‘Like A River’, where soft crying sounds are distant, and therefore grander, without disturbing the ethereal flow of the song. The guitar plucks dreamily throughout, and again in ‘Tropics (Erase Traces)’, until the latter transcends into a heavier rock track, with a guitar solo that sounds like it could belong on The Raconteurs’ ‘Consolers Of The Lonely’. The unexpected change pulls you back into the genius of MMJ’s eclecticism: sometimes we need those songs that rock hard, unapologetically. For those that might want to catch MMJ on their next tour, you can be certain that this progressive album will cater to stadiums and festivals alike.
‘The Waterfall’ is out now on ATO Records
The full track listing for ‘The Waterfall’ is as follows…
‘Believe (Nobody Knows)’
‘Like a River’
‘In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)’
‘Get the Point’
‘Spring (Among the Living)’
‘Tropics (Erase Traces)’
‘Only Memories Remain’
You can see ‘My Morning Jacket’ live at one of the following venues…
30th August 2015 – Rock En Seine Festival, Boulogne-Billancourt, France TICKETS
1st September 2015 – Openluchttheater Rivierenhof, Deurne TICKETS
2nd September 2015 – Gloria Theater, Cologne TICKETS
4th September 2015 – End Of The Road Festival, Blandford Forum TICKETS
5th September 2015 – Electric Picnic, Stradbally TICKETS