Regions of Light and Sound of God
Feb 01, 2013 Issue #44 - Best of 2012 - Grimes
The debut full-length from the lead singer of My Morning Jacket has a surprisingly light touch. Rather than trying to sound like a full band all on his own, James keeps things pretty simple. Not that things feel slight. "Know 'Til Now" excels with a minimal beat and electronic touches by putting James' supple voice at the forefront, something that would have been unimaginable over a decade ago, when My Morning Jacket first made a name for themselves with their guitar-led attack and vocals washed in reverb and effects.
Regions of Light and Sound of God finds the formula that works—beat, spare hooks, and James' voice-and sticks with it. "Dear One" eventually explodes into a bit of a Neil Young-style solo, but it's so drenched in effects and so short (less than half a minute) that it feels more like a natural way for the song to peter out than noodling for noodling's sake. A ghostly guitar provides the backdrop for "A New Life," one of the album's highlights. It begins like something one of The Beatles would have written post-breakup and ends in a '50s style breakdown. Somehow James makes these two halves work and sound contemporary at the same time.
Regions of Light and Sound of God is a laid-back affair, hardly the max-effort of some Jacket jams, and one can feel James really enjoying himself. The excellent "All is Forgiven" mashes soulful vocals with a sinewy Middle Eastern vibe, and to hear James unleash the power of his voice comes as kind of a shock after all of the subtlety and smooth tones of what has come before it. It's also testament to James' considerable talents, and if that's the goal of a solo exploration, he has succeeded. (www.jimjames.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 7/10