Jim James – Eternally Even
There’s something quite dour about Jim James’ second solo record. The dark, droning synths that pervade Eternally Even’s 40-odd minutes cast it in a kind of depressing light. It’s a claustrophobic record, with none of the exuberance James gave us on My Morning Jacket’s 2015 gem The Waterfall.
Eternally Even is dark, but it’s not menacing. There’s something comforting about much of this music, perhaps stemming from the classic soft-rock James has modelled much of these songs on.
Every now and then a sweet guitar line, horn part or other auxiliary instrument pops up and makes things sound awfully sweet. But it’s just colour, and it’s usually gone as quickly as it comes. We always end up back with the creepy overall feel the record is built on. It’s just another example of Jim James being a master of mood.
Elongated synth jam ‘We Ain’t Getting Any Younger Pt. 1’ will either hook you or lose you. You get lost in the messy groove or lose your mind as you race to the skip button. Part two, which immediately follows is the album’s best song, but we can’t help but wonder whether it’d be as good without that epic intro.
There are a few moments like that on Eternally Even, which proves James is still looking to push himself and push his fans at every appropriate opportunity, only to deliver the ultimate pop payoff.
‘True Nature’ sounds like a lost ‘70s jazz-funk classic. ‘In The Moment’ is slimy electro-soul taken directly from the world’s weirdest lounge bar. The slow-burn of ‘Hide In Plain Sight’ sets the deep groove early, while the sad, longing croon of the title track is a fitting way to end.
My Morning Jacket fans know by now that you can’t predict what musical twist Jim James is going to take at any given time. But they also know it’s worth following him. He doesn’t let us down with Eternally Even.