Album: Regions Of Light, Sound Of God
Released: February 2013
Listen to it: When your searching
Jim James is one of those musicians that does things the old fashioned way. He is never overly concerned with his monetary success nor with how his critics are going to rate him. He is into his art and his fans that have been following him since day one have been treated to a glorious ride that reminds classic rockers of music as it was meant to be.
James burst on to the music scene as the bombastic lead singer for the Louisville band My Morning Jacket. MMJ as some of their fans refer to them has had a series of challenging genre breaking albums that can best be described as a Rock and Roll stew. Often times reflecting the ethos of The Band while channeling maximum Rhythm and Blues ala The Who. Their live concerts are a whirlwind of emotion and emotiveness typically provided by James. He can be seen tramping the stage in furry boots while yodeling in a multi-octave voice that transcends ages of rock star glory. Yet even as he commands the stage, he willingly steps aside while his earnest band gains the audience respect.
James and his day job band can rock with the best of them but he also can find his way around a ballad or two. One of his numerous side projects was as Yim Yames- member of Monsters of Folk. The appropriately titled band mixed modern sounds with folk sensibilities for a grand one off album and a memorable tour featuring M. Ward and Connor Oberst leaders of the DIY music movement. The ever-changing James has now released a solo project that gives us Bill Withers’ style R&B, introspective lyrics enhanced with a spirituality that borders on gospel music.
The album “Regions of Light and Sound of God” attempts to be true to its name. James wears his soul on his sleeves as he channels religious imagery through his heavenly voice. The results will not always please hard-core MMJ fans but those with an understanding of his mission will greet this project as a necessary step on an artistic journey. The album finds James openly searching for answers in a stream of consciousness with the music serving at times as an afterthought to his quest and that in there is where the glory lays. It is James’ vulnerability that opens the listener up to a fervent experience.
This is not music for a raging party but in those times of trouble you might find yourself seeking solace in James’ wayward journey. Though songs like “Actress” and “A New Life” will resonant with MMJ’s legions of fans, it’s the reflective numbers like “All is Forgiven” and “God’s Love To Deliver,” that will provide comfort to listeners that way “Ava Maria” might in a holiday requiem.
James has one of the most unique voices in music these days and I’m not just referring to his booming falsetto. He remains true to the spirit of the sound as well as its’ messaging. On this record he tries to marry the sounds from the passion of his youth with his own discovered inspiration as he seeks truth in three chords. Listening to this album you are at times struck by the sensibility that conjures up a late in life John Lennon driven by a beat that would make the Temptations proud. Though it may not rank as a best seller it will serve as an excellent document of an artist searching and we are lucky to be invited on his musical vessel.