Artist: My Morning Jacket
Album: The Waterfall
Release date: May 4, 2015 (ATO Records)
buzz factor: 4.3/5
Louisville, Kentucky based band, My Morning Jacket has released their seventh studio recorded album titled The Waterfall. The LP consists of a variation and combination of every genre MMJ has dabbled in throughout their discography including southern rock, psychedelic rock, synth, shoegaze and R&B. The sound on The Waterfall is expansive as ever and embodies the stadium-friendly vibes that Bonnaroo attendees yearn for. The band will be performing in Manchester, TN this summer.
For each of their albums, the five-man band has always drawn inspiration from their surroundings. The Waterfall is no exception as it was recorded in Stinson Beach, CA. The location fostered spirituality amongst the band members during the recording process that translated onto the album.
Jim James belts out the first track “Believe (Nobody Knows)” like it’s destined for show opener status. The song preaches how none of us really know the meaning of life and we just have to, “Roll the dice and sail the ship and all the world will open.” In “Compound Fracture,” James’ seems to give an answer to the previous track, encouraging the listener to get out there, live life, and let go of whatever pain that has been weighing them down.
“Like A River,” highlights James’ spine tingling falsetto and slows the album down just enough for the listener to settle in. The song talks of coming home after a long journey with folky undertones woven in and out. “Again, I stop the waterfall by just believing,” James croons in the midst of one of the more depressing and darker songs on the album, “In Its Infancy (Waterfall).” Multi-instrumentalist Carl Broemel takes center stage, outshining but not overpowering the vocals.
“Get The Point,” is the most unambiguous and exposed you will hear James’ on the album. The song harbors the pain and emotional exhaustion that eventually comes to a head when you realize that a relationship that ended a while ago, is truly over. It’s a ballad on heartache that ends in resolve, “Daydreamin’ of leavin’/I only had to do it.”
After a quick glimpse into the workings of James’ heart, “Spring (Among The Living)” revitalizes the album as a transition into the remaining tracks. The shift from winter to spring is kind of like moving on from a break up. Essentially, the song is an anthem for those who are beginning to regain and harness the freedom and sense of self that they had lost, all while chanting, “Among the livin’ again.”
Following the tone of reinvention in all of its shoegaze-y glory, “Thin Line” tells it how it is by stating, “It’s a thin line/between lovin’ and wastin’ my time.” “Big Decisions,” enters with a full-bodied breath of fresh rock air. Reveling from the newfound sense of empowerment, James belts, “I’m getting so tired of trying to be nice.”
The Waterfall ends quite literally with “Only Memories Remain,” which reflects on a failed relationship and coming to terms with the fact that the only things you have left are the memories. “The love we share outlives us all,” James’ serenades.
Although modest in length, coming in at 47 minutes, My Morning Jacket is in a very comfortable place with The Waterfall. After years of experimenting with a grocery list of genres, the band has concocted a fortified album that stays true to who they are and what they’re about.