Jim James - Regions Of Light And Sound Of God as reviewed in Phantom TollboothJames creates a new, bright palette for the listener to explore matters of faith on a very personal level.

Artist:           Jim James
Label:           ATO Records / Red
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Duration:      9 tracks, 38:25 

Regions Of Light And Sound Of God is the creation of Jim James. The singer, songwriter and guitarist of popular rockers My Morning Jacket has produced this solo effort focusing on both change and faith. Mixing his unique ability to capture current culture in his lyrics, signature vocals, and groundbreaking compositions, James creates a new, bright palette for the listener to explore matters of faith on a very personal level.

Exploratory both in lyrics, story, and composition, James continues to break boundaries and current trends in music with a fresh, new sound and story. In some ways, Regions Of Light And Sound Of God seems an extension to James’ recent covers of George Harrison songs included in his EP Tribute To (under the performing name Yim Yames). Like Harrison’s faith offerings, James has a unique way of portraying faith, love, and truth.

Dramatic in its entry, the piano lead “State Of The Art (A.E.I.O.U)” builds in a slow but powerful way as the story of the album unfolds stating:

‘I use the state of the art technology, supposed to make life worth living.

We’ve got our wires all crossed, tubes all tied, I’m straining to remember what it means to be alive.

A life worth living, now you can feel it in your chest., building like little bullets, just building up the nest.

And you build it up strong and you build it up with love and you pray for good rain, all from the Lord above.’

Bass heavy with synth and light percussion, “Know Till Now” continues the story of individual growth:

‘Lost in the world, it’s seemed.

Caught, at a loss for words.

I didn’t know till now, how could I have known.

But now I see what life can be , how sweet it can be.’

With vocals sounding slightly like George Harrison, “Dear One” has a big sound to match a big message of change and acceptance of change. “A New Life” continues this message  (‘Hey, open the door.  I want a new life.’) The song highlights James’ gift to clearly pronunciate in verse. Listen for the break to a faster paced, ‘60s-like AM radio style. Acoustic guitar leads “Exploding”, a quiet instrumental exploring the deep caverns of one’s soul. A season of spring radiates in “Of The Mother Again” with a clear, fresh message of newness.

Strings lay the foundation for heavy bass and percussion in “Actress”. Breaks to strong guitar notes give emotion to a message of what is true and what is not. A sci-fi entry to “All Is Forgiven” gives way to a powerful middle eastern melody with a song devoted to Christ’s sacrifice and the singer’s representation of His sacrifice.

Finally, simple yet soring, “God’s Love To Deliver” completes the collection’s journey of change, love, and faith.

Regions Of Light And Sound Of God is best listened to alone, perhaps with headphones, and in it’s entirety. Like so many of James’ offerings, both solo and with My Morning Jacket, there is a deeper, more complex image than what might appear on the surface. Whether James is exploring his faith, generally questioning faith and truth, or simply coloring a similar picture there remains soulful lyrics, cosmic tones, and moments when a listener is lost in the music and lyrics.


Scott S Mertens



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