I love bands that defy category, My Morning Jacket get tagged as everything from stoner psych rock to Americana and everything in between, that they are and more. They take elements of blues, soul and Americana and then wrap it in something grand and spacey. They are a powerful musical unit, Jim James is a songwriter who likes to explore the depths and boundaries of humanity and existence all against the backdrop of a propulsive rhythm section. Their new album The Waterfall is probably more streamlined than their previous album Circuital, a little more melodic but it's just as good if not better, there is a certain conciseness to this album.
The atmospheric and optimistic Believe (Nobody Knows) is an uplifting opening salvo, James is a writer who likes to question ideas of faith and humanity. Believe opens up possibilities of what is beyond, the opening and closing of life's doors, James sending out stinging evocations, as the band create this enormous space, drummer Patrick Hallahan sounds like he is playing his drums in a cave.
Time to roll
The answer floats on down
The farthest shore
Of the mind
Roll the dice
That sail the ship
And all the doors will open
On down the line.
Compound fracture sounds with an ominous warning stampeding drums open up to a funky Sly Stone esque track with that pumping contorted style bass. A recurring question of what is right and what is wrong is mitigated by the idea that perhaps people are only doing what they need to do, the lines are blurred, a selfishness being called in question, brought into the light.
Compound fracture gonna ring the gong
And sound a warning of what's to come
If we ain't careful of where we step
Paradise calling of untimely death
There's no evil there's no good
Only people doing as they should
There is life in love and sound
Get as much as you can keep around
Before they put you in the ground
In It's Infancy (The Waterfall) poses the question can it be stopped, the juggernaut, the expressway of life whatever you call our modern life. An optimism grows out of the question the idea that we stop the waterfall, the cascade of life by simply breathing and living life in a more simple way.
Again I stop the waterfall by simply thinking
Again I stop the waterfall before my breathing
Again I stop the waterfall by finally feeling
Again I stop the waterfall by just believing
Get The Point is more personal, it sounds a little like John Hartford's Gentle On My Mind the song just gently floats, lives at cross purposes trying to save a dying situation all to no avail, where Gentle on My Mind has a sense of positivity of what lies in store, Get The Point offers tired resignation and frustration. Thin Line has that familiar loud open sound James' guitar sounding twisted and elongated, it's a great concept the idea that it's a thin line between loving and wasting my time. That logic can apply to many situations, we sit on a very thin crosshair at times. Big Decisions floats the idea of not being stricken by fear when making life's big decisions,
Sitting around wondering what the hell to do with your life
Only get one chance but you always think twice
And I'm getting so tired of trying to always be nice
You're sweet and sincere, but so ruled by fear
The great thing about My Morning Jacket is that there sound whilst in it's way very clinical never traverses trampled ground, they always sound so fresh and vibrant. They are never ponderous or pompous the music never gets lost or becomes too abstract, they are a truly great band and this is their best album yet.