Recorded in Stinson Beach CA, ‘The Waterfall’ is Louisville Kentucky based rock quintet My Morning Jacket’s seventh full length album, due for release on ATO Records/Capitol Records. Following in the footsteps of their highly acclaimed Grammy nominated 2011 release ‘Circuital’, ‘The Waterfall’ is a focused, psychedelic homage to the beauty of nature.
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The last we heard from Jim James, he was contentedly butchering the Songs: Ohia classic “Farewell Transmission” for a Jason Molina tribute, extracting the Americana and lacing it with strands of My Morning Jacket’s electronic DNA. Curse that infernal racket of a cover, but it serves to sum up James’ relationship with American folk traditions: he’s been searching for something bigger and bolder, a type of music that can pay dues to the landscape and history while revealing more and more of it. As time has gone on, My Morning Jacket have become purveyors of Big Music, creating outlandish, dreamy records like ‘Evil Urges’ and ‘Circuital’ -- on ‘The Waterfall’, though, they reach peak grandiosity.
‘The Waterfall’ details a distorted, fluorescent image of the natural environment, and the music seems to serve as an awed tribute: though you can hear the twang here and there, as well as the pastoral harmonies guiding the band through, this record is a psychedelic journey, a surreal twist to a standard folk story. The proggy, Yes-influenced “Like a River” uses acoustic guitar as its backbone but swirls with electronic motifs and opaque riffs, opening the song up one U-turn at a time. “In Its Infancy” swirls from its sinister intro into a plaintive meditation with whistle-clean guitar, as emptying as a cloudless sky.
As always, credit is due to James and his otherworldly ambitions -- there’s no artist who tries harder to give back to the genres of music that influence him. But it’s the calmer, more introspective moments I’ll always come back to: “Get the Point” -- which twinkles around sighing, spiralling twang -- is James at his softest and sweetest. It’s hard to get that from him anymore, considering he’s all about abandoning this world for a cosmic version of it -- if that’s what My Morning Jacket means to you, though, then look for the psychedelic epic and the grand slow waltz that this record waves goodbye with.
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