Back with his third solo release, My Morning Jacket vocalist Jim James returns with Uniform Distortion, an 11-piece record which sees the artist once again triumphantly breaking the barriers of being in a band in order to successfully explore their own musical desires. The album touches on everything from the portrayals of modern news coverage to ecstatic guitar solos which send this album into a pure state of euphoria. Sit back, relax and delve into Jim James’ distorted world.
We’re introduced to the surprisingly uplifting tones of this record from ‘Just A Fool’, a catchy little number which uses the sweet melody of simple guitar licks to grab the listener’s attention from the offset. What starts as a relatively mellow number soon finds itself sinking into a smooth summery sound which really kick starts the album’s momentum excellently with some truly infectious hooks.
From here we’re sent on quite the interesting journey, as almost every other track on the record upholds a similar level of excitement and energy. ‘Yes To Everything’, for example, begins as a strong well-driven number that bares a surprising resemblance to something The National would put out, before bursting into a colourful solo the likes of which I don’t think I’ve ever heard. The cutting edge of the sound pierces the ears in a distorted, but truly lovable manner, as the guitar clambers up and down the frets in a genius fashion which words simply don’t do justice to.
For any singer to distance themselves from their band is always a daring move which can easily see tensions grow between band members and put artists in fragile spots, which can see entire careers come tumbling down. However, it seems that Jim is facing no such issue or trauma with this record. All in all, the reason Uniform Distortion works is because the entire record thrives off of the genuine human touch which created it: every song feels personal, emotionally loaded and is delivered with the same level of passion and intensity which forged it. The occasional tremor in the vocals and general unfurnished feel really adds a solid layer of warmth and cosiness to this album, making it that little bit easier to fall in love with.
Whilst Jim’s vocal narrative and each track’s uniquely fancy guitar licks do drive this record, the harmony work equally adds that additional sense of optimistic flare which arguably transforms each song into pure summer anthems. Whether it be the full three-piece harmony in ‘Better Late Than Never’ which creates a purely retro surf track, or the warming sensation of lead single ‘Throwback’ that morphs into an exciting flood of sound which equally upholds an intense level of nostalgia and madness you can really delve into.
Overall, there is almost no complaint. Jim James has crafted a record which sees him truly carving out his own path from his peers in My Morning Jacket, whilst expressing his own musical desires in the best way imaginable. Uniform Distortion may not be a record which will shake the foundations of music, but it certainly is a record which you can put on, sit back and listen to whilst watching the world go by. This is an album from not only an incredible musician, but one who isn’t afraid to put himself out there and risk it all in doing so and, for that, nothing but admiration can be had for Jim James.