My Morning Jacket: The Waterfall | Album Review

Fri, May 1, 2015, 17:00


The Waterfall

My Morning Jacket

ATO Records


Why aren’t My Morning Jacket a bigger band? Wait, that’s actually an easy question to answer. Despite Jim James and Co’s numerous Grammy nominations, truthfully it is over-ambition that has stymied the Kentucky band’s progress over the course of their 17-year career. Such albums as 2003’s It Still Moves and 2005’s Z prised open the door to a new audience, but their tendency to embellish has meant that critical acclaim has never really translated into sales or a bona fide crossover to the mainstream.

By all accounts, this has never bothered the quintet – particularly James, who continues to indulge his manifold solo and side-projects to this day. His seventh album with My Morning Jacket is as sprawling a miscellany as what has come before, but this time it’s inflected with prominent dashes of 1970s Californian rock.

It’s a sound that’s been audible throughout much of the band’s previous material, but this time it can be attributed to the fact that The Waterfall was mostly recorded at the beautiful Stinson Beach in northern California. Songs like the slinky Only Memories Remain and In Its Infancy (The Waterfall) are particularly evocative of bands such as CSNY, Creedence and even The Eagles, the latter punctuated by dashes of psychedelia. The acoustic guitar of Get the Point is a foil for songs like the squally, spacey, overblown Tropics (Erase Traces) while the celebratory feel of colourful opener Believe – underlined by James’s characteristically philosophical lyrics – is so ridiculous, you can’t help but smile. The Waterfall won’t be the album to make My Morning Jacket a household name, yet just like a carefully stitched patchwork quilt of styles, there is both comfort and huge enjoyment to be drawn from this album.