Home > News & Reviews > Jim James

Jim James - Uniform Distortion (Album Review)

Thursday, 05 July 2018 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Justin Tyler Close

On Jim James’ third solo album, the My Morning Jacket bandleader has dispensed with indie psychedelia in favour of straightforward, gutsy rock tunes. The result is a record of tight musical elements, with a consistently radio-friendly sound, that falls flat when compared to more innovative releases by better rock songwriters.

One reason that’s the case: ‘Uniform Distortion’ sounds pretty dated from the off. James is a musician who has a clear - if not quite distinctive - approach to arrangement, and his decision to record the album as a three-piece (drums, guitar, bass and voice) with three backing singers gives it a cogency that marks it out from many of his previous releases.

But the compositions are just so pedestrian. Tracks come and go with relative anonymity; chord changes are predictable, vocal melodies tick over and the musical structures - though detailed- rarely raise an eyebrow.

Like Dan Auerbach’s ‘Waiting on a Song’ from 2017, the album operates better as a case study in James’ production and arrangement skills than as a recording artist expressing their ideas.

There are a couple of decent moments, though. All In Your Head has a spacey patience and musical integrity that works well for the most part. But it’s undone by James breaking into laughter during the second verse, which happens a few times.

A singer corpsing on a track can go a few different ways. At best it works as a natural piece of vocal punctuation, cutting through the music with spontaneous joy. At worst, it feels like contrived and convoluted piece of self-referential marketing, as though they are saying 'Look at how much fun I'm having' unconvincingly. Here it's the latter.

All of which makes for a pretty dull listen. James is a fine talent and his catalogue is developing into a broad and deep one, but ‘Uniform Distortion’ is not a good album. It represents exactly why young people aren’t listening to guitar rock any more.

Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!

Related News

Jim James Announces 'Uniform Distortion' Companion Acoustic Album 'Uniform Clarity'
Thu 13 Sep 2018
Photo: Kevin Ratterman Jim James will release 'Uniform Clarity' on October 5 via ATO Records.
Jim James Unveils New Track Throwback
Fri 01 Jun 2018
Jim James has shared a new single.
My Morning Jacket's Jim James Announces New Solo Album 'Uniform Distortion'
Tue 17 Apr 2018
Photo: Justin Tyler Close My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James has announced a new album.
Strictly Come Dancing Stars Gorka Marquez And Karen Hauer Announce Spring UK Firedance Tour
Mon 09 Sep 2019
Gorka Marquez and Karen Hauer will tour the UK in spring 2020.
Organisers Postpone Stepback 90s Vs 00s UK Arena Tour
Fri 04 Oct 2019
Organisers have postponed the Stepback 90s vs 00s Tour.
Jeff Goldblum Announces New LP 'I Shouldn't Be Telling You This' And Reveals Star Duet Partners
Fri 13 Sep 2019
Jeff Goldblum has revealed details of his next album.
Motörhead's Phil Campbell Shares Alice Cooper Collaboration Swing It
Fri 20 Sep 2019
Phil Campbell has teamed up with Alice Cooper for a new track.
Rex Orange County Releases New Track 10/10
Mon 16 Sep 2019
Rex Orange County has shared a new song.
< Prev   Next >