With his debut solo album “Regions of Light and Sound of God,” Jim James has apparently taken a page out of Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” and done his best to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.
While “Regions” is certainly a departure from his previous work, the My Morning Jacket frontman delivers a solid album of multi-genre medleys that will have you casting aside your Netflix queue in favor of some classic transcendentalist poetry. Whereas James’ last album with MMJ, the well-received “Circuital,” bordered on the edge of alternative, his solo effort is a soulful and psychedelic experience from start to finish.
James based “Regions” on graphic novelist Lynd Ward’s “Son of God,” which celebrates a humble, idyllic life over one of wealth and fame. In that mold, the album opens with classic piano, orchestral strings and soft static, giving the impression that the song was recorded live. James plays every instrument featured on the album with the exception of drums and strings, embodying a do-it-yourself ideology that is rare in the music industry today.
James’ trademark muted falsetto and love of reverb dominates the album’s tracks, particularly on “State of the Art A.E.I.O.U.” and “A New Life.” The tone of the album noticeably adds a brighter, less weary sound to several tracks, mirroring the change of heart demonstrated by the character in Ward’s novel.
Featuring a variety of instruments ranging from harp to saxophone to what might be an electric organ, “Regions” is full of intricately orchestrated details that are sure to please listeners. While James’ lyrics are hardly intelligible, it quickly becomes clear that the words are not as important as the way he sings them or the manner in which they blend with the accompanying vocals and instrumentals for a thoroughly funky effect.
Overall, “Regions of Light and Sound of God” proves that James’ solo career is off to a solid start, though one might wonder if he’d be happier simply herding sheep in the countryside than touring the country.
Alexandria Ethridge is music editor. Email her at email@example.com.