As the frontman for My Morning Jacket over the past 15 years, Jim James has occasionally ventured outside the group, releasing an EP as Yim Yames and participating in the supergroup Monsters of Folk. But on February 5th, he'll release his first official solo album, Regions of Light and Sound of God. Recorded at his home studio in Louisville, Kentucky over the past two years, James played nearly all the instruments on the LP, which includes the gorgeous instrumental "Exploding," with acoustic fingerpicking and sweet psychedelic electric guitar overdubs, and the spare, optimistic pop of "A New Life."
Mixing analog and digital recording techniques, James created vocal sound collages on "Know Til Now" – which evolves into a psychedelic jazz excursion – and the spooky "God's Love to Deliver." "I'm really in to sound collages and I love recording sounds and then taking them and putting them places they shouldn't have been," says James, sitting on a Manhattan rooftop on a gorgeous November afternoon. "I want people to feel like [the album] helps their life in some way, or that it helps them celebrate or helps them mourn or laugh or cry. I just want it to feel useful."
James started considering the album after he was injured falling offstage in Iowa in late 2008. The concept started to take shape when he wrote it based on Lynd Ward's 1929 graphic novel God's Man, made entirely of woodcuts. "It was like the me that lived in 1929 was probably a big fan of it," James says. "It felt like I was seeing it again. I was kind of getting in to the book at the same time as stuff was happening to me coincidentally. It took on this heavy thing."
Next year, James plans to take the record on the road. "I want to tour for this record and I'm gonna bring a band 'cause I want to play the record as it is recorded, with all the instrumentation but then, yeah, I'm sure I'll probably do a couple of songs each night acoustic and stuff like that but I want this show to be more of a more danceable affair."
Listen to "Know Til Now," the lead track from James' Regions of Light and Sound of God: