Kentucky rockers, My Morning Jacket, could have released a double album this year. Lead singer and songwriter, Jim James, explained to Rolling Stone back in December that they had written twenty-four “solid contenders” for two albums. This prolific creative burst is exciting news for fans but will it be a case of quantity over quality?
You should never judge an album by its cover but it can be a good testament to the inspired beauty that lies (potentially) within. This is very much the case with The Waterfall. The heavily treated yet delicately artistic imagery denotes essences of psychedelia and retro proggy-tinged rock. The record delivers what it offers on the tin with swirls of soul, folk and indie swagger thrown in for good measure.
‘Believe (Nobody Knows)’ and ‘Compound Fracture’ open the gates nicely. The darting vocal lines and fuzzy guitars are laced with a delicious layer of reverb that sounds like the band are performing from within a cave placed behind the waterfall itself. Piano melodies dance and organs charge adding to a triumphant affair graced with pomp and hippie undertones. Things take an ethereal turn with ‘Like a River’ as acoustic guitars navigate arpeggiated corridors accompanied by soft vocal harmonies in a nod to late 60s progressive rock balladry.
The album takes the listener on a fascinating journey as it meanders through passages of light and shade, darting from rock to folk and from one mysterious melody to another. ‘Thin Line’ tempts jazzy qualities, teasing the cheesy end of the spectrum, whilst ‘Big Decisions’ shunts forwards with some straight up and convincing hard rock. The band sees the album out with two placid epics (they both fall somewhere between the two terms) in ‘Tropics (Erase Traces)’ and ‘Only Memories Remain’. The latter succeeding as an extended dreamy jam that captures essences of Peter Green’s gentle noodling on Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’.
Overall The Waterfall is a highly enjoyable listen and is certainly a collection of solid songs. We’re going to have to wait until sometime next year for the second wave but they have definitely satisfied the demand for now.
A highly enjoyable and varied collection of songs that take the listener on sonic journey. Well worth a listen.