Album of the Week: My Morning Jacket, 'The Waterfall'

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My Morning Jacket, 'The Waterfall'
My Morning Jacket, 'The Waterfall' (© 2015 Capitol Records.)

Twitter superstar @floyding/St. Paul Public Schools teacher/my friend Zach Floyd said it best:

This is perfect, as it sums up my general experience with MMJ's music. There is a lot to enjoy, a lot to love, but a lot to sift through to get to the gold.

"Compound Fracture" wouldn't have sounded out of place next to Steve Winwood's "Higher Love" on AM radio in 1987. On the heels of the tremendous opener, "Believe (Nobody Knows)," it's as though MMJ are briefly threatening to ascend into a new sphere — something that couldn't immediately be identified as an MMJ record. This gives way to the characteristic loveliness of "Like a River," featuring pretty strings and pretty vocals from Jim James.

The abrupt beginning of "In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)" suggests that it may have originally been slotted as part of a medley — the band has openly spoken of its plan to release a second, companion record next year, and perhaps there was a grander plan for this song — and even within the song itself, it unfolds in suite-like fashion, segueing between folk guitars and prog synths. Things settle into a more traditional sequence from there, ranging from the acoustic "Get to the Point" to classic MMJ-style epics like "Only Memories Remain."

My Morning Jacket full-lengths often feel best suited for fans, and The Waterfall is no different in that regard. But at its best (namely the first two tracks, plus single "Big Decisions"), this is another enjoyable effort, and if Part 1 is any indication, Part 2 next year sounds like it will be enjoyable too.


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