Make us your home page
Instagram

Review: Jim James' 'Regions of Light and Sound of God' is otherworldly

My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James debuts his solo work.

Getty Images

My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James debuts his solo work.

Jim James is from Louisville, Ky., but calling him a country act is a stretch. Sure, the otherworldly singer often sounds as if he's lost in deep echoing woods, but only because that's where his spaceship crash-landed.

The man who refers to himself as "Yim Yames" is an eccentric and then some, never more so than on curiouser new LP Regions of Light and Sound of God, his first official sabbatical from his day gig leading My Morning Jacket.

The critically beloved (if cultishly appreciated saleswise) MMJ doesn't do normal, either. With James as its loopy frontman, the Southern Gothic rock band's albums are head-snapping epics ranging from space boogie to metallic jams to country-flecked anthemic rock.

By his lonesome, James is far less aggressive and far more spiritually concerned — both musically and lyrically — which might be a problem for some. But if you're in the mood for warm, gauzy cocoons of trippery: bingo.

Some might know James for his high-arching onscreen rendition of Goin' to Acapulco that was the gut-punch climax to 2007 Dylan biopic I'm Not There. That was a forceful, front-of-the-mix vocal, a starmaking moment. On Regions of Light and Sound of God, James, who can also be a ferocious guitar player, is in no mood to show off any which way. This is for your chill-out moments, religious and otherwise. On the standout track All Is Forgiven, his voice comes off like a muted muezzin's call, the loping, reverent song nothing less than Middle Eastern jazz bop.

On the Cat Stevens-ish New Life, a cut seemingly born in a sunny '70s meadow ("Babe, let's get one thing clear / There's much more stardust / When you're near"), a midsong tempo change doesn't affect his soft sweet vocal until the very end, when things chug. Even more mellow, he hits a starlight falsetto on God's Love to Deliver, which posits Martin Luther King as deified mouthpiece.

James' dismissal of typical pop routes might be a turnoff to some, but he's not an elitist. An instrumental called Exploding is just as heart-melting as and reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel's April Come She Will from The Graduate. A slyly plodding State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.) is a headphone special that plays with words and sound effects, James' "state of the art"-ness fizzing out at the end. And the relatively grooving Know Til Now is James' own weirdo version of disco — just don't expect the Bee Gees.

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@tampabay.com. Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

.REVIEW

Jim James, Regions of Light and Sound of God (ATO)

GRADE: B+

Review: Jim James' 'Regions of Light and Sound of God' is otherworldly 03/28/13 [Last modified: Thursday, March 28, 2013 5:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Fast Times at Ridgemont High turns 35: Learn it. Know it. Live it

    Blogs

    Fast Times at Ridgemont High not only is the perfect time capsule of pop culture in the early ‘80s - all it needed was some tasty waves and cool buds = it’s also high art. How so? Leave it to me. I'm the full hot orator today. Did you know the cast actually featured three future Academy Award …

  2. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 23: Of tiny towns, wonderful naps and dreamlike ice cream bars

    Travel

    Day 23: Murias de Rechivaldo to Foncebadon: 20.8 km, 6 hours. Total for Days 1-23 = 541 km (336 miles)

  3. Forgotten '80s classic: The Kinks' 'The Road'

    Blogs

    While the '70s has classic songs about rock 'n' roll on the road like Jackson Browne's The Load-Out and Bob Seger's Turn The Page, the '80s also lamented about the long tours including songs that might have escaped your attention like the Kinks and their travel song simply titled The Road.

  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 28

    Events

    Lady Antebellum: The Grammy-winning trio take the stage with openers Kelsea Ballerini and Brett Young. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $26.75-$60.

    LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 02:  (L-R) Recording artists Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum perform during the 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on April 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
  5. Opera legend Sherrill Milnes keeps a quieter profile in Palm Harbor

    Features

    TARPON SPRINGS — The soprano sang an aria from The Marriage of Figaro about lost love, but she could have been asking the devil not to steal her soul. A couple dozen opera fans watched, including a silver-haired man with leonine features leaning back in his chair.

    American operatic baritone Sherrill Milnes, right, critiques a performance by Mariana Carnovali, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, during the Opera Voice competition on Monday  at the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times