February 19, 2013

Jim James delivers home-grown EP: The famous Louisvillian keeps it local with his new solo record

By Aaron Williams–

“Regions of Light and Sound of God”
ATO Records, 2013.

Singer-songwriter Jim James is a man of many different styles. His previous artistic endeavors have included an EP of George Harrison covers under the pseudonym Yim Yames, and most popularly, he is frontman to Louisville’s alternative rock collective, My Morning Jacket. With James’s latest project, “Regions of Light And Sound of God” released on Feb. 5 by ATO Records, the MMJ lead singer and guitarist has tuned into his own inner experience to add another dimension to his music.

“I wanted the album to sound like it came from a different place in time,” said James of his work, “Perhaps sounding as if it were the past and the future, if that makes any sense — like a hazy dream that a fully-realized android or humanoid capable of thought might have when it reminisces about the good old days of just being a simple robot.”

The album marks James’s first full-length solo project as an artist. “Regions of Light And Sound of God” is the musical journey of one man into the void of existence. It is a lofty search for a higher power, a reach across the cosmos to touch the divine. James’s vocals echo with a unique sincerity that can only be expressed when a singer pours his soul into his musical abilities. On “Regions of Light And Sound of God,” that is exactly what James does. The divine seems almost within his grasp.

From the album’s opening track, the listener is drawn into a musical landscape that is constantly shifting and at the same time seamless. James functions as a shamanic singer with a bitingly relevant message for the digital age. “I use the state of the art, technology, now don’t you forget it, it ain’t using me,” James sings on “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.).”

The EP is a beautiful and lush undertaking from start to finish. In just under 40 minutes, James inspires the listener with his own perspective on the universe. It is certainly a mystical one. Whether it is a funky bass line or a transition from sweeping, orchestral strings to hard-hitting electric guitar, everything seems to spring into being at sound timing. It is a brilliant showcase of James’s skills as a musician. He plays all instruments on “Regions of Light And Sound of God” save for the drums and strings.

In a music industry comprised of increasingly manufactured pop music stars, Jim James finds his place by blending the light and the dark, the macrocosmic with the microcosmic, the personal and the impersonal, and references to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with mentions of Jesus Christ. James is ever reinventing himself and staying true to his own hometown’s eclectic weirdness in the process. He is a psychedelic, God-seeking folk musician from Kentucky who invites us all to sit still, quite our thoughts, and hear the sound of God rolling off the Appalachian Mountains.

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Photo courtesy of diffuser.fm

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