Album Review: My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall

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Editor’s Note: My Morning Jacket will be performing at Louisville, Kentucky’s Forecastle Festival Saturday, July 18. Single day tickets are still available here. Check Live From The Internet for festival coverage and videos.

My Morning Jacket’s latest album should be praised for many reason. It has fantastic production featuring an ensemble of sounds and instruments and it never lack creativity. Some may say band should be applauded for still sounding fresh seven albums in.

But I expect those things from My Morning Jacket. I never doubted that a full length album from the Louisville rock group would offer exciting new material.

This album ended with me feeling reassured, not surprised. The thing I didn’t expect was the world the band would paint around me during “The Waterfall.”

Throughout the album, the sound pulls between two different directions. There’s an open serene area in the album where the listener can find comfort in the protection of acoustic instrumentation and Jim James’ whispers. On the other hand, there are thundering anthems that ring through the air leaving their mark once they have finished.

As the songs progress, each adds more character to the picture being painted. By the album’s end, there are two distinct landscapes you can find yourself in while listening to “The Waterfall.” You can be sitting by the waterfall, soaking in nature’s beauty, or you can allow the majestic scenery to sweep you off your feet into an electrifying fantasy.

“Believe (Nobody Knows)” begins the album in the latter state of mind. The rocking call-to-action is inspiring to hear and makes you want to dart away in any direction. “In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)” continues this day dream with prog-rock pulling the listener through a variety of phases in the song structure. Perhaps the most trancing is album closer “Only Memories Remain,” which has a hazy lounge groove sways for six minutes, like rocking a baby to rest.

The album is pulled back down to earth with tangible country spirits. Songs like “Get The Point” and “Like A River” almost recall live performances. They’re performed delicately and intimately; listening at a computer desk is suddenly like watching from across a campfire.

Setting is a key quality for this album. My Morning Jacket does an excellent job of controlling the atmospheres, and places you where you ought to be when they so choose. This is done so well that I believe it helps qualify “The Waterfall” as one of my favorite albums from the group.

Each song brings you to a new place and no time is ever wasted. The album features a tight tracklist full of wildly loose songs that bring personality to the atmosphere they work in. It’s an album that will appeal strong to fans listening from beginning to end, although it’s not essential to do so. Songs on “The Waterfall” are equally impressive on their own two feet as they are joined together. It doesn’t matter how you listen to the album, but you need to listen regardless.

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