My Morning Jacket - The Waterfall as reviewed in The Phantom Tollbooth My Morning Jacket successfully pushes the envelope to new and refreshing places with The Waterfall.

The Waterfall (Deluxe Version)
Artist: My Morning Jacket
Label: Capitol Records
Release Date: May 4, 2015
Duration: 14 tracks, 1:03:06

My Morning Jacket (MMJ) is well known for their big, arena-like sound, experimental compositions combining many genres and pushing commonly understood structures of modern music, and Jim James vocal range and poetic lyrics. Each of their releases grows exponentially in this way. The Waterfall is all this and more, and does not disappoint.

The opener, “Believe (Nobody Knows)”, is an all-encompassing experience with a large, expansive sound and poetic lyrics challenging faith, life, and love. Here there is movement, growth, and reflection melded into one in a thought provoking entry to the collection. MMJ has a way of creating a musical journey of each album they produce much like early Led Zeppelin and other bands of the early 70s. “Compound Fracture”, “Like A River” and “Tropics (Erase Traces)” show this quality.

Most experimental of the collection, “In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)” plays with placement of the refrain underpinned by slight chord changes with breaks to gentle, rolling lyrics and rhythm. The placement and pounding-like reverb of the song’s refrain breaking hard to its message is an example of MMJ’s ability to marry melody and message. A much lighter, playful touch follows with “Get The Point” reminding the listener of early Harry Chapin tunes.

 “Spring (Among The Living)”, has an urgent, post-apocalyptic feel while the shadowy “Thin Line” casts doubt on love’s lasting values, both with a big, engaging sound. “Big Decisions” falls within this story line. The soft, mid-60ish leanings of “Only Memories Remain” give a final meditational note to the journey.

The deluxe version has a second CD containing outtakes and a demo not uncommon for MMJ to produce and always providing a new and interesting side to their music. Acoustic guitar and James’ vocals make “Hillside Song (Bonus Track)”, a sad ballad, come live. “Compound Fracture (Miami Jungle Version / Bonus Track)” gives a raw and unfinished vision. “I Can’t Wait (Bonus Track)” has a simple, bouncy mid-60s feel. With simple rhythm and lead guitar parts accompanying James’ vocals this rendition of “Only Memories Remain (Jim Demo / Bonus Track)” gives an interesting perspective to the song having an eerie John Lennon-like vibe.

Like the old saying ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’, The Waterfall has it all. Perhaps not for everyone as MMJ refuses to hide behind what is normally accepted and popular. Like a true artist, My Morning Jacket successfully pushes the envelope to new and refreshing places with The Waterfall.


Scott S Mertens