Don’t ever accuse My Morning Jacket of resting on their laurels. The boys from Louisville, KY have released a new album that transcends everything you thought you knew about them. After their more traditional southern rock major label debut “It Still Moves”, the band has truly broken away from their signature sound with their fourth album “Z”.
“Z” is one of those catch 22 albums. The experimentation within this album is largely successful and it makes for an exciting listen. However, it does cause the album to lose some of the cohesion that the earlier My Morning Jacket albums always seemed to have. With so many brilliant songs, it’s easy to forgive though. The first track, “Wordless Chorus”, sets the stage for what’s to come. I never thought I would be comparing My Morning Jacket to Prince but Jim James’ vocals as the song closes have definite similarities. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise though. Even on earlier albums you could feel the R&B influence seeping in at times. The album’s first single, “Off the Record”, is actually permeated by a ska/reggae beat. “What A Wonderful Man” is a great short and sweet pop number. No matter what sound or style My Morning Jacket goes for, the majestic and soulful vocals of James always seems to hold it together just fine.
In the past when I was asked what My Morning Jacket sounded like, I would always say, “well, imagine Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips singing for an intelligent southern rock band”. Now it seems as though My Morning Jacket has embraced the experimentation of a band like The Flaming Lips and one can only be excited about the future possibilities of that.