My Morning Jacket

(Copyright © 2004 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

The Tennessee Fire (1999), 6.5/10
At Dawn (2000) , 6.5/10
It Still Moves (2003), 5.5/10
Z (2005), 6.5/10
Evil Urges (2008), 5/10
Circuital (2011), 5/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

My Morning Jacket is a roots-rock band from Louisville (Kentucky) fronted by vocalist Jim James. The double-CD Early Recordings (Darla, 2005) collects their first singles. Their The Tennessee Fire (Darla, 1999) delivered simple country-rock melodies highlighted by haunting arrangements and haunting vocals.

Alt-country, southern-rock and power-pop meet on At Dawn (Darla, 2000), a monolith that packs enough refrains and riffs for an entire Kentucky bar-band dynasty.

It Still Moves (BMG, 2003) is a bit too polished for their kind of music, but their take on southern-rock (Dancefloors, One Big Holiday, Mahgeetah) and the nine-minute meditation I Will Sing You Songs (which achieves Built To Spill-ian transcendence) almost save the disc from its unwise (reverb-heavy) production values.

Chapter 1: The Sandworm Cometh (Darla, 2005) and and Chapter 2: Learning (Darla, 2005) collect unreleased early tracks and rarities.

Z (ATO, 2005) was more of a producer's success (John Leckie) than a songwriter's success, but it still meant that My Morning Jacket had finally focused on what they wanted to be. The album was a sonic exploration of ordinary states of mind conjuring up visions of the most baroque REM ballads, of the prettiest Tom Petty elegies, and even of U2's bombastic arena rock. Studies on ambience such as Wordless Chorus, Into the Woods, Dondante enhance the parade of off-kilter rocking tunes (Lay Low, What A Wonderful Man, Off the Record, Anytime).

Okonokos (ATO, 2006) is a double-CD album.

Evil Urges (2008), their worst album yet, boasts a goofy funk-soul-rock hybrid Highly Suspicious and the seriously depressed and electronic Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt 1 (not to mention its eight-minute remix as Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt 2). The new course of the band might be the falsetto soul of Evil Urges, though.

Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, and M Ward formed the Monsters Of Folk in the vein of Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and released the ambitious Monsters Of Folk (2009), containing Dear God and Slow Down Jo.

My Morning Jacket's Jim James performed covers of the late George Harrison on the EP Tribute To (2009).

Crosby Stills Nash & Young must have been the inspiration for the supergroup formed by Son Volt's Jay Farrar, Centro-matic's Will Johnson, Anders Parker and My Morning Jacket's Jim James that debuted with New Multitudes (2012), a concept devoted to reinventing the music for old Woody Guthrie lyrics. Best is James' Talking Empty Bed Blues, that recaptures the dejected pathos of the "dust bowl ballads".

My Morning Jacket built on the stylistic confusion of Evil Urges to explore the creative arrangements of Circuital (2011). The tenderly melodic Outta My System is emblematic of how the simplest idea gets dressed up elegantly and smoothly. The problem is that these are songs that take forever to announce their personality, and, when they finally do, you keep waiting for some soaring change, but instead the song quietly perpetuates itself until it dies away. Best is the yodeling Neil Young-ian lament of Circuital, slowly morphing into a Bob Dylan-ian shuffle.

(Copyright © 2004 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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