Related Artists: Blitzen Trapper, Monsters Of Folk, Jeff Tweedy
Recommended Tracks: “All in your head” “No Secrets” and “You Get To Rome”
Rating: 3 out of 5
Jim James, chiefly known as the front man of My Morning Jacket, released a 40-minute collection of music giving the listener an in depth look at how James views his life and reflects on what he has learned so far. It goes by the title of Uniform Distortion and to be honest, I haven’t heard a more fitting name for an album in quite some time. Released under ATO Records, this is his fifth solo release and it is plain to see that the songwriting on this album served as a form of self-reflective therapy for the artist.
Throughout the album which was released on June 29th, there are distorted effects being used on his vocals, guitar, and on almost every other element heard in the music. I feel like this would be a great album to listen to on vinyl though I haven’t gotten the chance to yet. It almost sounds like a live album because there are moments of imperfection that reflect how James is feeling. He is professing to the audience that he is acknowledging his own imperfections and the honesty is greatly appreciated by myself.
The names of every song on the album describe distorted, disillusioned, longing and confused feelings. Some examples including “Just A Fool,” “No Secrets,” “All In Your Head” and “Too Good To Be True.” He is addressing the reality of his life and sharing it with simple lyrics (which end up being very repetitive at times). I believe that the reason there is such repetition at times is that these are thoughts that have been bouncing around his head for quite some time and that on the album, he is giving the listener the most unfiltered look at what his thoughts have come to consist of. The simplicity of the lyrics matches the simplicity of the arrangements. Over the course of 11 songs and 40 minutes, James has delivered an album that is not exciting at first listen but grows on the listener after realizing the honesty of each track. It is an extremely consistent album.
One other thing I would like to note about the album is the cover art. It is a photo by Duane Michals titled “Illuminated Man,” and given the themes of the songs, it fits absolutely perfectly. After listening to the whole album, you get the feeling that James has found some illumination after writing and releasing this album.