If the first 90 seconds of an opening track can set the bar for an album, these 90 seconds will show you how it’s done. The new record from American rock originals My Morning Jacket kicks off with a feel-good anthem to set your optimistically early barbecues alight, and continues in a similar vein. Phone Went West has to be one of our favourite alt-ballads of all time, so expectations have always remained high for Jim James and co to bring a healthy dose of lurve, all wrapped up in hundreds of guitar strings and a smothering of reverberated “ooh”s.
Single Big Decisions lead us to believe that this band certainly hasn’t lost their sense of romance, or their ability to craft excellent rock songs, so we were keen to nab a good listen to the rest of the album asap. As Nana always said, “stick to the knitting”, and thankfully, just as we hoped, this is exactly what The Waterfall does. Compound Fracture showcases James’s deliciously understated vocals, enticing new listeners into this fine example of a fully fledged rock record that doesn’t sound like the lead singer has been eating an angry wasps’ nest for breakfast.
The pacey Like a River brings a gorgeous acoustic edge to proceedings, and raunchy electric-guitar-laced Thin Line soars high in the beauty stakes, evidencing that this is a rock band who aren’t afraid to play with vocal harmonies and lashings of instrumentation. There’s a permitted spattering of Americana mainstream easy-listening (read: sway-along cheese) in tracks such as In Its Infancy, Only Memories and mini-ditty Get The Point but the guitar riffs and the overall clever song structures can’t fail to please the ears of discerning and (ch)easy listeners alike.
Despite the fact that there aren’t any particularly unforgettable gut-wrenchers to replace our Phone Went West obsession, the production is still on-point and all of the tracks will translate incredibly well to live shows. There’s a perfect balance of sounds, ranging from acoustic beauties to the tasteful BRING-THE-NOISE rock beasts like Believe, Tropics and Spring, all of which serve to cement My Morning Jacket as one of the most understanding and pleasing American rock exports of their time.
The Waterfall by My Morning Jacket can be ordered here.