Album Review: Jim James
There is a common theme stringing through Jim James’ debut solo album Regions of Light and Sound of God — the interbreeding of classic jazz and R&B sounds and 21st century schizoid music — as well as James’s spirituality. Obviously roots and blues influences are present too, as they are in most of James’ band My Morning Jacket’s work, but the similarities between this album and those of MMJ aren’t too extensive. The band has a very large and reverberated sound compared to this album, James’ first real output of original solo material.
“A New Life” is the best song on the album. James doesn’t loop himself on keyboard or wail on guitar, as he does in most of the others. Even better, he arranges one of the most touching and straightforward love songs written in decades. The basic vocal and guitar beginning is perfectly satisfying, but James takes it to a whole new place as the track’s full band swing builds into its abrupt finish.
Now who doesn’t love a good spaghetti western soundtrack? That’s the sound, mixed with James’ range-varying and lullabying vocal sounds, emanating from “All Is Forgiven.” Nobody can pull off the spaghetti rock sound better than James, except maybe Calexico, whom James has actually collaborated with in the past.
The whole album isn’t fantastic. Some of the songs, including the very indie-sounding “Of the Mother Again,” lack a little in creativity. But when was the last time you listened to a full album and didn’t have any complaints? What it comes down to is that Jim James is by far one of the most talented musicians alive. Everything he puts out is honest and heartfelt. Regions of Light and Sound of God is just a taste of what James can do, even with minimal help, and definitely deserves a listen.