My Morning Jacket: The Waterfall (ATO/Capitol) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #53 - April/May 2015 - Tame ImpalaMy Morning Jacket

The Waterfall


May 01, 2015 My Morning Jacket Bookmark and Share

Jim James is rock music’s leading mystic. For years, his lyrics have explored big philosophical questions, and contain frequent mentions of spiritual concepts. It follows, then, that the My Morning Jacket frontman is an expert at meditation; nobody would be surprised if the dude could teach a class on it. The Waterfall, My Morning Jacket’s first album in four years, sounds as if the whole band retreated to an isolated meadow back in 2011 and has been meditating until now: it’s clear, confident, and focused. It’s also Jim James and company’s best record since 2005’s Z.

In reality, the band’s members have actually been pretty busy since 2011’s Circuital was released. Jim James released his solo debut, 2013’s Regions of Light and Sound of God, and drummer Patrick Hallahan played on Spanish Gold’s debut album. And while My Morning Jacket didn’t quite meditate in a meadow, they did hole up in a studio on Northern California’s Stinson Beach to record The Waterfall, a locale that supposedly inspired the bulk of the album’s relaxed recording sessions. That inspiration is evident: “Like a River” and “Tropics (Erase Traces)” are freewheeling excursions, full of mystery and ready to soundtrack a walk on an isolated ocean shore.

It’s not all mysticism and free-spirited natural beauty here, though. The Waterfall is filled to the brim with decades of classic rock, blue-eyed soul, and old-school folk influences. Lead single “Big Decisions” could be a lost single from The River-era Springsteen, complete with sax and piano. “Tropics (Erase Traces)” is downright Zeppelin-esque. Grandiosity is the name of the game for most of the 10-song album, as horns, strings, and vocal harmonies lift nearly every guitar riff and vocal melody into the stratosphere. Aesthetic elements aren’t the only ones that sound so assured, either. The overall mood of The Waterfall is contented and optimistic, which is very satisfying after the sometimes troubled mindset of the band’s past work.

Ultimately, The Waterfall is an exciting refresh for My Morning Jacket, especially considering that the band has hinted at a second album from these sessions on its way next year. It’s a triumphant listen for longtime fans of the band, and hopefully it will perk up some new, fresh ears as well. We might not all get to hide away at a secluded studio on Stinson Beach, but My Morning Jacket have brought that grandeur to us. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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