September 18, 2003

Test Spin: My Morning Jacket

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Okay folks, get out your grits, fried chicken, and most importantly, your gee-tars. My Morning Jacket are a Kentucky-bred, Brooklyn-based group who use their Southern influence to create powerfully solid rock songs with a bit of twang and a load of reverb.

But let me allay your fears by saying that My Morning Jacket do not write songs about pickup trucks, dead dogs, or milking cows, although the lyrics are generally dark, as if singer Jim James had found his inspiration at the bottom of a few pint glasses. This is alt-country not in the sense of Wilco but a lot more retro, like an anachronistic Neil Young-Strokes collaboration to which Creedence Clearwater Revival showed up uninvited. My Morning Jacket are riding the White Stripes powered wave of success by bringing rock back to a time when songs were simple and production was cheap, but instead of just hopping on the bandwagon with a cheap imitation, they concocted an album that’s actually worth listening to.

Most songs feature James’s moaning, sighing drawl backed by a relatively low-tempo riff. You’ll hear a lot of slide guitar and some acoustic as well. When the songs pick up, such as in the gorgeous, nine-minute long “I Will Sing You Songs,” you’ll remember why rock music is your best friend. The songs are long, the guitars are distorted, the lyrics are compelling, and everything is just right for closing your eyes, bobbing your head, and wishing you were from Kentucky.

Archived article by John Penning