Jim James, best known as the lead singer of My Morning Jacket, and whose only solo efforts were some beautiful stripped down lo-fi George Harrison covers under the moniker of Yim Yames has finally unveiled his first solo album.
Opening track ‘State of the Art (A.I.E.O.U)’ sounds like some of the experimental textures that Wilco have used on their latest effort The Whole Love. It mixes a gospel-esque piano vamp, which is then offset with little electric embellishments perfect for the headphone experience. This textured sound is seen throughout the album, with strong hints of David Bowie being shown in the melodies of ‘Dear One’ and ‘Of The Mother Again’, but also the seeking of something futuristic achieved through traditional instrumentation – think the Flaming Lips.
One of the best songs on the album is ‘Actress’ which, with its sweeping John Barry-esque strings, is the essence of Californian sunsets and the allure of Hollywood encapsulated in a song. James’ voice is caught between those of John Lennon and Wayne Coyne, especially on ‘Dear One’, which could be ‘Across the Universe’ from another era as fuzz guitar breakouts add a jarring texture to the blissed out moments. There are some quieter moments on the album too, most obviously the instrumental ‘Exploding’ but these are fleeting moments, and ‘A New Life’ soon bursts into something of a ho-down.
This album’s eclectic reaches are defiantly worth a listen if you can accept that sometimes the influence is stronger than the influenced.
Words: Louis Gilbert