My Morning Jacket
It Still Moves
T.J. Simon's #4 album for 2003
First Appeared at The Music Box, November 2003, Volume 10, #11
Written by T.J. Simon
Fans of Neil Young & Crazy Horse will love It Still Moves, the new album from the Kentucky-based outfit My Morning Jacket. Lead singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer Jim James — a name one is apt to find only in Kentucky — has a voice that sounds like a good-mood Neil Young, and his intelligent song-crafting style goes far beyond ’70s southern rock bombast to make this disc a singularly powerful listening experience.
It Still Moves begins with Magheetah — drawl it out loud with a southern accent, and you’ll get it — which sounds like Neil Young had he ever fronted The Beach Boys. Flashes of the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd fuel the guitar, which shines luminously through One Big Holiday and Dance Floors, the latter of which also features an awesome horn section at the song’s energy peak. While My Morning Jacket is not a jam band, the instrumental interludes push most songs north of the five minute mark, and the album’s dozen tracks exceed a running time of 71 minutes. This would be the kiss of death for a lesser band, but James’ songwriting prowess repeatedly delivers quality moments — even on the otherwise unforgivable nine-minute excursion I Will Sing You Songs on which the layered vocal tracks build to form a choir of harmonies.
In producing It Still Moves, James chose some interesting effects including a reverb on the vocals with a perceived distance between his singing and the microphone. This gives the album a distinctive concert-like ambience and creates an ethereal effect that simultaneously becomes both rockin’ and dreamy. The instrumental compositions within the songs — as on the disc’s most countrified track Easy Morning Rebel — are also risk-taking endeavors. The two tempo changes within this cut and its follow-up Run Through are testaments to how powerful and dynamic My Morning Jacket must be in a live setting. The guitars blaze without ever being overbearing or obnoxious, and enough songs build up to triumphant horn climaxes that there’s not a dull moment on the album.
My Morning Jacket is nowhere near as hard-edged as southern rock revivalists Drive-By Truckers or as lyrically whimsical as Missouri’s rural rock outfit Bottle Rockets. The lyrics crafted by James on It Still Moves are more obtuse and serve the purpose of forming art out of a genre that has largely fallen out of favor with the mainstream. And while some of the songs are stronger than others, there isn’t a single tune that should cause My Morning Jacket a lick of embarrassment.
Of Further Interest...
It Still Moves is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box