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My Morning Jacket – Z [2005] – Album Discovery & Review


WHO IS MY MORNING JACKET?


I discovered My Morning Jacket in 2008, I had the pleasure of seeing them at the first Pemberton Music Festival, held in British Columbia. I was intrigued from the first bit of their set, and how they resembled a much more indie version of Pink Floyd, with the vocalist Jim James providing some incredibly passionate melodies and emotion. These guys were formed in Louisville, Kentucky,  in 1998, and have went on to make three more albums since, with their latest album “The Waterfall” being released back in 2015 (that was totally a long time ago). Most recently, Jim has been touring with his solo album Regions of Light and Sound of God. , and has been collaborating with some very well respected artists, such as Elvis Costello. Their debut album “The Tennessee Firehit international success, with only doing alright in the states, Netherland in particular loved this album for some peculiar reason.


IMPRESSIONS / REVIEW


My Morning Jacket’s “Z” has become one of my favourite bands to rediscover and reminisce. I bought this record shortly after seeing them at Pemberton, and it still to this day has fresh replay value for me. It ignites so many positive emotions from within you, you feel happiness with their cheery songs such as “What a Wonderful Man” and “Off The Record” they can put a smile on your face if you’re feeling it, and they’re just such glorifying and heartfelt tracks. In the intro track “Wordless Chorus“, we literally get a wordless chorus, with Jim going all over the place in terms of vocal range with the ooooos and aaaaaas and especially AAAAAAAAs near the end. The melody is so entrancing that there is definitely no need for words…speechless, really.

“It Beats 4 You” is what really got me hooked onto this album, it’s one of my favourite drum tracks. Such a creative way to go about the rhythm, and I love the way it is so articulate in its structure, near the end he incorporates the crash symbol into every half beat, and I think it sounds incredible and perfectly composed. Then we are driven off the rails into a magical dream of guitar arpeggiating, pulsating bass in “Gideon”. Jim’s reverbed vocals take you on a short journey to Gideon, and although i’m not even sure if that is a place or not, I like to think its a journey to this mysterious “Gideon”. Side C on the vinyl version of this album is definitely my favourite on the album with the songs “Anytime“, “Laylow“, and “Knot Comes Loose“. Anytime is another uplifting track, with lovely piano plucking and driving guitars and drums. Love the lyrics: “Is this climbing up to the moon? Or is it bailing out too soon?”, in which Jim expresses his difficulties dealing with his romantic interests. He doesn’t know whether to tell a girl truly the way he feels with all of his heart, or to just play it cool in fear of scaring her away. Laylow is a beautiful, epic song that starts off in a very catchy, almost pop influenced manner, with a very infectious chorus. About midway into this song, it turns into an epic, with electrifying guitar solos in both harmony and accompaniment on top of a piano fiasco that progresses until the song ends, leaving you absolutely breathless…me anyway.

 


I wanted to record a little bit of “Knot Comes Loose” so you guys could hear it in its pure, vinyl form, sooo relaxing…

 

Knot Comes Loose is definitely my favourite track on Z. This somber, southern lullaby puts me in a meditative state with every listen, it really makes any setting just a little bit more beautiful, and that is a really important thing I think for music, to set the mood for the listener, to put them in the right state of mind. The closing track “Dondante” is an 8 minute epic that gets nearly an entire side of the vinyl, it starts off in the same vain as Knot Comes Loose, but in a lot more ghastly and mysterious way. As more instruments get introduced throughout the songs duration, it eventually all comes together in this amazing wall of instrumentation. At the peak of this song, Jim passionately yells: “You had me worried, so worried that this would last” Jim explained that this song was about a friend of his, that he met in the fourth grade, here’s what he said (found on Genius):

“All I can say is he was a real brilliant soul. I met him in the fourth grade. We were the same age but I always felt like he was a little older than me-he knew a little bit more than me. And we always had big dreams. We played in our first band together and dreamed big dreams and would see shows like Storytellers on TV or Unplugged (another music program that airs on VH1) and you know, the things you see on TV as a kid and you’re like ‘Whoa man, maybe someday we can do that.’ But he just-no matter how much you told him how special he was, he could never hear it. I’m sure you all know someone like that, that you just can’t get through to them. And I didn’t want to tell this story and get all emotional but I knew there’s no way to not get emotional about it but he, like so many people like that, choose to leave this world. And sometimes you can’t hardly blame them because this world can be a really hard place. But every time we play this song, he is with us. And I’ll never forget playing it the first time, he was there. And every time we play it, he’s there. And at the end of the song I always take a trip backstage to say hi to him, because we dreamed so much together and he didn’t get to live out his ability to chase his dream. So, I wanted him to get a chance to play Storytellers with us.”

my feelings entirely.

 

As Dodante finishes very slowly, almost like a camp fire naturally dying off into ashes, you are left feeling fulfilled and uplifted from this series of emotionally charged, almost psychedelic collection of indie rock tunes. I highly suggest you guys give this album a good, full play through, I think it’d be a perfect album to both start off on a road trip with, and end with coming home. I’m going to go dive into all of their other albums now, hope you guys enjoyed the read, and I’d love to hear your experiences with the album, and My Morning Jacket in general!

-Connor Morley

mymorningjacket.com

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