Album review: The Waterfall by My Morning Jacket

waterfall500The Waterfall
by My Morning Jacket
Produced by: Jim James & Tucker Martine

On their 7th studio production Louisville-based My Morning Jacket continues to masterfully hone their tradition of album production by being that band who doesn’t conform to the music business. Nor their own previous endeavors of recording an album, for that matter. Which is rather typical of them at this point.

Venturing to remote Stinson Beach, in Northern California – once called home by Jerry Garcia – they isolated themselves in the Panoramic House with essentially only each other, a beach, the stars and the moon. For front man Jim James, a sudden and debilitating back injury would also be a catalyst for his song writing and recording experience. Just like any environment typically has on it’s occupants, the emotional output recorded was befitting of their environment.

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Many of the songs were born out of assembling different song fragments and ideas from each band member, blended together with advanced recording tactics. Unlike that of 2011’s Circuital.

The euphoric and mesmerizing dark rhythms of “Spring (Among the Living)” and “Tropics (Erase Traces)” tantalizes the senses, while “Only Memories Remain” and “Thin Line” showcases the soulful crooning James is still cable of, even if it’s lying flat on his back while nursing an injury.

Other critics, writers, so-called journalists or clucking hens with a blog will rave and jabber about this being the band’s best recorded effort to date; but I say they’re missing the point entirely if that’s what they really feel is important to say. This band doesn’t enter the studio with the goal to outdo or out-perform their last album. They’re just evolving. They don’t care about writing a hit song. Hit songs are for the music business, and the business is bad.

On top of that, they came away with so much new material that another installment of The Waterfall, or perhaps something else, is due out before year’s end.

MMJ is about experiencing and conveying raw human emotion by giving birth to music that arouses a curiosity within themselves, and their listeners, to search for the answers to life’s mysteries. Presumably with some of those catalysts being isolationism and the controlled intake and indulgence of substances yet-to-be-known. You know, kinda how Pink Floyd gave birth to Dark Side Of The Moon.

Welcome to the dark side of My Morning Jacket, which happens to be referred to as The Waterfall.

— Jason Ashcraft

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*Jason Ashcraft is a freelance contributor for Performer Magazine, based out of Louisville, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee. You can read more random readings from him via his blog:

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