Considering this is album number seven for the Jim James led outfit from Kentucky, they are still yet to really come to the attention of the masses on these shores. So back to basics: My Morning Jacket produce rock music of an absurdly high standard, have one of music’s most gorgeous vocals and back this up with an impressive live show… Therefore plenty of reasons to peak interest.
MMJ are nothing if not adaptable and throughout their career have taken what should be straight ahead rock music added heaps of experimentation to produce material to excite, to dance to and fall in love to. Waterfall is a swirling, ambitious album that will again translate well to the live stage and opener ‘Believe’ sets the tone, with its size and stadium filling drums and solos. James’ lyric “Roll the dice, sail the ship and all doors will open” demonstrates the trademark uplifting lyrics and monster guitar solos and, while this is bordering on stadium rock, it somehow retains its credibility.
The entire album is a patchwork of Southern rock, psychedelic vibes and elegant stripped back acoustic tracks which flows perfectly and seems to be the work of a band completely assured of their place in the music industry, and well schooled from previous efforts. ‘Compound Fracture’ is a stylish track containing strong hook melodies and orchestral layering by skilled musicians, while the ’70s influenced title track swoops in and builds and builds to a climatic chorus, representing James’ longing to stop time and slow down.
‘Get The Point’ is reminiscent of Simon And Garfunkel and is one of the joyous occasions where the singer moves into story telling mode, and it’s one of an amicable break up with a girl that is both honest and relevant. It shares a quality of telling the tale of the highs and lows of romance that Noah And The Whale do so well.
‘Big Decisions’ has been available to stream for some time and it’s this song that takes us back in a country rock direction with big vocals and huge kick drums. James delivers the albums most aggressive lyrics, articulating his annoyance with those who drift through life. In fact the subject of taking the gift of life and its opportunities with both hands comes through regularly, perhaps a discovery that many have when approaching ones summer years.
The album as a whole is well structured and characteristic of a band that understands their profession and is at the top of their game following the Grammy award nomination for Circuital.
What is particularly clever is the ability to blend stripped back soft, acoustic guitar with layered rock chords and solos. This is a beautifully written album punctuated by strong percussion and vocal performances and this may well be enough, if not to get the kids in, certainly to bring them to the attention of the masses currently drooling over the mediocre anodyne bands filling stadiums currently. MMJ are deserving of their place on the top table of indie rock music and their latest accessible recording will only cement that further.
The Waterfall is released on 4th May via ATO Records.
James Van Praag