Filed Under:

Jim James: On A Spiritual Quest In The Digital Age

Play associated audio

When he's leading his band My Morning Jacket, Jim James often comes across as a seeker — someone with at least passing curiosity about the metaphysical, if not the unknowable. On his first solo album, Regions of Light and Sound of God, his questioning goes a bit deeper.

Throughout the record, James is the typical lost soul looking for anything genuine in a sea of artifice. His vulnerable melodies give off a sense of profound doubt, like in "Actress," in which he watches a movie actress on the screen and wonders whether personality can be powerful enough to distort reality.

James isn't too sure about organized religion, either. He does believe in the notion of a higher power, and his faith in it animates the best of these songs. He works himself into a mood of fervent conviction in "All Is Forgiven," which explores trust and forgiveness.

People who know My Morning Jacket might hear that track and say that James is just re-branding songs that his band might have done better. But the rest of the album takes him far from his comfort zone. Playing most of the instruments himself, he journeys into the introspective aura of John Lennon's later solo work and the upbeat pop grooves that recall Motown in the early '70s.

Shifting away from the intensity of his band recordings, James allows his calm, beautifully expressive voice to become the central focus of this record. At once reflective and bewildered, he's in it for the long haul — asking the kinds of questions that don't have easy answers.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

A Modern 'Roots' For An American Society Still 'Based On The Color Line'

The remake of the seminal TV miniseries begins on the History channel Monday night. Co-producer LeVar Burton says he recognized an opportunity to retell the story "to and for a new generation."
NPR

'Sweetbitter' Is A Savory Saga Of Restaurant Life And Love

Oysters, cocaine, fine wine, love triangles: Stephanie Danler's debut novel Sweetbitter follows a year in the life of a young woman working at a top-tier Manhattan restaurant.
NPR

Illinois General Assembly Works To Resolve Budget Impasse

Fallout continues from the standoff between the Republican governor and Democrats — focused heavily on the future of unions. And Tuesday is a key deadline to see if a resolution can be reached.
NPR

After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, She Channeled Her Ups And Downs Into Texts

NPR's Scott Simon talks with Natalie Sun about her project, textingwithcancer.com. The website won a Webby award, and documents her pessimism and optimism while undergoing chemotherapy.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.