Confession: I’m a sucker for My Morning Jacket. In folksy Americana mode, they make some of the best road-trip music I own, and when they’re jamming out, they’re one of the best improvisational rock acts currently touring. Needless to say, if Jim James’s solo debut sounded like a new MMJ album, I wouldn’t have complained. But Regions of Light and Sound of God is no such record. Anyone who’s heard James sing knows his chameleonlike qualities, and Regions nicely drives that point home. The whole thing opens quietly with “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.),” a sparse piano number that slides then skips along languidly. Later, “A New Life” finds a nasal-sounding James in celebration mode, calling to mind the tongue-in-cheek folk ballads of Harry Nilsson or David Bowie. And just before Regions disappears into the night, James gives us “All Is Forgiven,” a saxophone-led bop that features some of the album’s rawest, most sincere vocal moments. In the case of Jim James, turns out sometimes less is more.
Regions of Light and Sound of God