There’s something completely forgettable about Jim James. Perhaps it’s that name. His anti-pop star take on being a pop star, however, doesn’t stop Eternally Even from becoming music that you want to return to again and again. A second solo album from a multi-talented musician and sound engineer, it’s the perfect music to listen to while driving along an empty parkway on a Sunday morning as if the whole world belongs to you. It transcends a specific audience. These latest songs from the lead singer of My Morning Jacket are expert at setting the mood for non-productive stuff like daydreaming. “Same Old Lie” is that spacey soundtrack you’re in search of when you put your head underwater in the bathtub.
Electronic heavy music can be so meticulously produced it can come off as impersonal, but that’s not the case here. James invites listeners to follow him through an alternative reality more liberating than the one you’re in. It’s music that helps you to feel more like you want to. It’s a soundtrack to surround yourself in when you want out of the madness. It provides a non-religious religious kind of healing.
James is inspired by different muses here. Playing “Here in Spirit” brings back Mary J. Blige moaning “I know you can hear me now. For the record. I love you,” for example. Maybe it’s the old school R&B beat that makes you bob your head and snap your fingers in a way that people just don’t anymore. A lot of the appeal of this album is that it does bring back simpler days when music was the backdrop for house parties. You could tell a song from a jingle. The two were completely different experiences. His music with My Morning Jacket has a counter culture playfulness that calls up sixties hippie anthems. He revels in his trippy origins here too, but he takes them in a more quantized, often clubby feeling direction.
It’s hard not to prefer the trip hop influenced tracks on Eternally Even. The title song interrupts it though. It’s a ballad, but more one that would appeal to someone with edgier tastes than the middle-aged fan overcome with a serious case of nostalgia while listening to the jazz-funk bass on “In the Moment.” He wanders in and out of tune at times. His vocals glide less smoothly. He suddenly channels Neil Young. The words he emotes in a pained kind of bliss are about “feelings towards you softened over time.” It’s dark and introspective rock that reminds you of his My Morning Jacket origins. It would be stating the obvious to say that James is that rare musician able to artfully bridge the gap between lots of different genres. He clearly had fun in the studio while producing this and has created a great album that’s not just good to listen to. At times, you can see these songs. They’re a weird and jittery motion picture about being free and unencumbered by the complex times we live in.
Author: Jacob Fletcher
Jacob has been a music fan since the dawn of time, or at least since his dad first played AC/DC for him. Although never really very proficient at any one instrument himself, he follow music the way analysts follow sports. He thinks genres are and classifications are outdated, if it sounds good, that’s what matters! Find him on Twitter at @fletchman91.