Jim James is a soul man at his core. But he’s also a guitar rock god and a synthesizer wizard who loves playing saxophone. The man just loves playing music and does it pretty much non-stop, whether with My Morning Jacket or alone in his home studio.
Last night, for a small crowd on invited guests, Jim played almost all of his solo debut “Regions of Light and Sound of God “ – in order — with a backing band of Louisville musicians (and a female bass player from Nashville).
The live versions of these songs pushed them to their limits – from experimental jazz to freak out funk.
It was even better than I could have imagined, all led by the head-banging James. He spent good parts of the set facing the back wall and letting his band take the lead, but his trusty Flying V made plenty of appearances for extended jams at the end of a few songs.
From the opener “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)” the packed crowd at Apogee Studio was nodding their heads in unison along with the beat, followed by the jam “Know Til Now” with Jim’s howls, animalistic expressions of emotion and passion.
He seemed to channel Elvis during the beginning of “A New Life”, a simple, gorgeous song that starts with his solo crooning (my favorite line: “there’s much more stardust when you’re near”) before the full band joins in to blissfully take it home.
Jim let loose some of his trademark falsetto on “Of the Mother Again”, and I appreciated the song much more than I did on the album. In fact, it might have been my favorite.
The encore included a couple acoustic tracks – “MMJ’s “Wonderful” which he segued beautifully into “Blue Moon” – then closed with “Changing World” from the Woody Guthrie tribute album “New Multitudes”.
For the interview, Jason Bentley introduced Jim as a “spiritual warrior” and asked about how his solo debut came about, to which he answered “ I just like to play. It’s that simple.”
Jim said a key piece of advice from producer Joe Chiccarelli set him on the right path. Joe told him “don’t ever make demos”, just start recording. That way no energy is wasted. And that is the nature of the album, with lots of live takes. And seeing it live was even better!
Jim informed us a new My Morning Jacket album is in the works, so those who feared his solo work would sidetrack him from his main gig need not worry.
Jim James’ performance will air on Morning Becomes Eclectic on September 26.
Jim James Live on KCRW – Set List
State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)
Know til Now
Dear OneA New Life
Of the Mother Again
All is Forgiven
God’s Love to Deliver
Wonderful (MMJ song) -> Blue Moon
Changing World (New Multitudes/Woody Guthrie tribute)