BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
With his first solo album under his given name, the sometime Yim Yames abandons his role as a monster of folk in favor of an amorphous, atmospheric set-up that moves him further afield of his day job with My Morning Jacket. Gradually warming to this new terrain, James took the period of recuperation following an onstage accident to regroup and plot his next move.
Inspired by an 80 year old novel he read while in recovery, James turned soul-searcher and philosopher, a stance summed up by the album title Regions of Light and Sound of God. The set eschews songs in any traditional sense, opting instead for murky soundscapes characterized by minimal piano and acoustic guitar, suspended strings and a dense overlay of synths and drums. Opening track “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)” borrows the minimalism of the first John Lennon Plastic Ono band album and meshes it with a melody reminiscent of Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine.” The unsettled air of “All Is Forgiven,” the drift and drone of “Actress” and the spectral shimmer of “Exploding” and “Of the Mother Again” give further credence to James’ experimental instincts. “I want a new life,” he asserts with the supple shuffle of “A New Life.” Clearly, he seems to have found the design he’s looking for.
DOWNLOAD: “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.),” “A New Life”