Once you get past My Morning Jacket's barefoot hippie sentimentality, you'll find a classic, urgent rock 'n' roll sound. Every drumbeat is titanic, every guitar riff rings with precision and place, and the croon of singer Jimmie James, while drowning in waves of reverb, is ethereal and wielded like an instrument all its own. It's hard not to get swept away by the sheer weight and magnificence of It Still Moves -- a subtle epic, if such a thing exists.
Immediately reminiscent of the moody lo-fi sound of Hope Sandoval and Mazzy Star, peak CCR, or jammy mid-career Black Crowes, MMJ's third full-length (first for a major) is disciplined riff rock 'n' roll, jam-oriented without getting lost to burnt-out '70s rock ragas. The music lasts, but not any longer than it has to.
Recorded in the band's practice space/barn in Louisville, Kentucky, the flavor and space of the atmosphere -- easy, comfortable, and warm -- shines through. Even when the guest horn section (raw and soulful like vintage Stax records) blows relentlessly, there's a relaxed mood that permeates the music without taking away from the urgency of the beats and guitar riffs. As for the lyrics, examine them closely -- "Oh shit run!/Oh shit run!/Oh shit run thru the ghetto!/They will hear you!"-- and it's evident that the words are just a vehicle to put James' beautiful blue croon on display.
It Still Moves is Southern gothic: tender, melodic, soulful rock 'n' roll meant to be absorbed rather than merely heard.
My Morning Jacket plays Slim's in SF on Friday night. 415-255-0333.
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