Jim James: Eternally Even

Posted November 16, 2016 by in Alternative



3/ 5


Genre: ,
Producer: ,
Genre: Alternative, rock, alt-rock
Producer: Jim James, Blake Mills
Label: ATO, Capitol
Format: Digital download, compact disc, vinyl
Time: 41:26
Release Date: 4 November 2016
Spin This: "Here in Spirit," "The World's Smiling Now," "Hide in Plain Sight"


The hip-hop/old school soul teased "Here in Spirit," the message song of "Same Old Lie" and the LP's first half is quite strong, nice follow-up to James's debut LP


Second half drowns in material that lacks polish, depth and smitten with oddball moves from James, such as opting for low vocals

My Morning Jacket frontman hardly miss a beat on the first half of his bold, risky sophomore LP. The rest? Meh

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

My Morning Jacket frontman hardly miss a beat on the first half of his bold, risky sophomore LP. The rest? Meh

jimjames-00When doing band stuff, you have to be democratic and bipartisan. It’s not a one-man band, which is why doing solo albums can be an outlet for creative expression. And Jim James, enigmatic frontman for the alt-rock rock band My Morning Jacket, found a safe zone with 2014’s Regions of Light and Sound of God.  On that set, James shakes up his palette of sounds to include more symphonic soul, expansive psychedelic rock along with matters of universal spirituality.

His second solo set, Eternally Even, continues in the same tradition but it’s a totally different record, folks. For starters, the album opener “Hide in Plain Sight” drips with psychedelic soul teased with hip-hop flourishes, thanks to James’ rap-like flow on the verses. “Same Old Lie” follows in the same vein, but piles on the controversy by tackling hardcore politics, the importance of this presidential election, police brutality and racism. It’s as if James had the burning need to journey into Stevie/Marvin social political activism. “Here in Spirit” feels like the album’s champion, thanks to a slick midtempo groove full of hip-hop galore, psychedelic flashes and the ascending chorus draped with euphoric MMJ glares. The sudden slower tempo on the last minute isn’t exactly a wise option, nor the abrupt ending, but it’s seriously hard to not like the track.

There’s also “The World’s Smiling Now,” the disc’s obvious sleeper. It slips into a cozy trance of Bill Withers soul, surrounded by Fender Rhodes instrumentation and an off guard reverb effect causing James to sound like Pop Staples caught in a galactic vortex.

The rest of the nine-track adventure falls into a foggy haze. James avoids his angelic falsetto and distinctive tenor, opting for a talk-like, creepy bass on the ’70’s soul vibes of “True Nature” and “In the Moment.” It’s heavily used on “We Ain’t Getting Any Younger (Pt. 2).” Part 1 is all instrumental, played out in classic MMJ elongated fashion. But instead of jamming and finding comfort in guitar solos, the repeating of the interchangeable riffs slouches into a sofa of sleepy boredom.

So what’s the verdict on Eternally Even? The first half is the mightiest, packed with some of James’ most thoughtful commentary and glowing compositions, even when judged at MMJ standards. The second half, for the most part, is forgettable and feels like filler material. It is eternally uneven from a musical perspective, but relatively ripe with very good moments. Embrace the good and skip the lackluster stuff; Eternally Even, still relatively digestible, is still worth seeking out.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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