Nov 7, 2016

Jim James - Eternally Even (2016)

My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James’ solo

With "Eternally Even," his second solo album, Jim James has created a world that's equal parts organic and electronic, with a sonic landscape built on layers of modest keyboards that are elevated by the considerable quality of the material and arrangements. What ultimately emerges is a grand bedroom soul orchestra that sounds alternately charming and disquieting.
    James' solo debut, 2013's "Regions of Light and Sound of God," was more ambitious in scale and drew from a broader palate but also felt a bit distant. "Eternally Even" is smaller but feels more genuine and less self-conscious as James approaches divisive issues from a place of warmth and positivity. Personal and world politics are consistent themes that he tackles with humanity rather than vitriol as the music artfully echoes the message.
    Below the prowling keyboards, which sometimes take on a prog-like quality, is a soul album. "Here in Spirit" and its message of speaking out against intolerance sounds like a classic Curtis Mayfield gambit without aping Mayfield's style. The more confrontational "Hide in Plain Sight" has a muted hip-hop feel with psychedelic elements, a trait shared with "Same Old Lie" and its outro that sounds like world music as reimagined by an all-girl Casio band.
"Eternally Even" sometimes has a homemade vibe but that's deceptive; this is a subtle, complex record that perfectly merges James' political philosophies with his personal obsessions.

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