Regions Of Light And Sound Of God

Jim James

ATO Records, 2013

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Being the principle songwriter, guitar player, and producer for My Morning Jacket, I guess it's not too surprising that Jim James has finally delivered a solo album. However, since he is so involved with My Morning Jacket's creative process, would one expect his solo work to differ much from his day job? Either way, in 15 years the band has yet to disappoint, so I was all ears even if James’ solo venture replicated My Morning Jacket completely. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

A talented multi-instrumentalist, James has an arsenal of sounds available to him and makes good use of them, achieving a lot of different styles into this intimate and laidback listen. Even though the piano heavy opener “State Of The Art (A.E.I.O.U)” leads off with a eerie vibe and dark feel, though it's not an entirely dismal affair. “Know Till Now” switches gears with electronica, organs, and some interesting basslines, though by “A New Life” things get quite sparse, nearing folk music.

James' vocals are often layered throughout this, and his lyrics are usually cryptic and occasionally make religious and spiritual references. The middle tracks are where this is most evident. “Of The Mother Again” lyrically runs parallel to the album title, though musically it's a soulful, funk-spirited affair. “Actress” follows a similar path, the violins providing an aching beauty before guitar effects sweep in. The last two songs are mostly Eastern influenced, a bit spacey and psychedelic flavored, often sounding like a blurry dream.

Regions Of Light And Sound Of God ultimately emerges as a very hazy listen. James' first solo outing may not be as instantly gratifying as his work with My Morning Jacket, but for the in-depth listener, this is a must. His unconventional ways of adding jazz, R&B, soul, and funk into his version of thinking man's meditative pop unfolds in mysterious and often spellbinding ways. This is a great disc if you want to hear something pleasant or really want to mull things over.

Rating: B+

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