Today, My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James has released his new solo album Uniform Distortion. The LP features 11 songs covering 40 minutes.
As a whole, the album finds Jim delivering a spacey and fuzzed out style of rock with elegant harmonies. Songs like "Just A Fool" and "You Get To Rome" display James' craft of developing catchy guitar riffs that are unique and memorable. There are also raw garage rock jams sprinkled throughout the LP, evoking a Neil Young & Crazy Horse vibe, noticeably in "Throwback," "Out Of Time," and "No Use Waiting."
If you are curious about the album cover art, it was shot by photographer Duane Michals and is titled "The Illuminated Man." The picture was included in a publication titled The Last Whole Earth Catalog, which was a major inspiration for the album. Below, you can read a letter Jim wrote to Duane asking for permission to use the image and how it relates to the album. The text is exactly how he wrote it, according to NPR:
hello duane- your piece "the illuminated man" was used in "the last whole earth catalogue" in 1971. i wasnt even born yet. i was born in 1978... but i found my copy of "the last whole earth catalogue" about 6 months ago in a thrift store and it blew my mind. i have been feeling increasingly overwhelmed by the speed of technology and its place in our lives and here was this beautiful book/catalogue from the past showing me me all these beautiful things and amazing images to help one learn different ways to look at the world... or "get off the grid?" funny they had no idea back then just how crazy "the grid" would get. or did they?
so i am trying to put down my phone... use the computer and social media less... and just focus on real life and the people i love and my art. of course i am not fully "off the grid" because i am sending you this email in hopes of you changing your mind about letting me use your image as it appeared in "the last whole earth catalogue" in 1971 because when i saw it on the page there it spoke to me so deeply of how my head feels like it is exploding with the amount of information we are forced to consume on a daily basis and how that information is so DISTORTED there is almost no longer any tangible truth. the name of my new record is "UNIFORM DISTORTION" because i feel like there is this blanket distortion on society/media and the way we gather our "news" and important information... and more and more of us are feeling lost and looking for new ways out of this distortion and back to the truth... and finding hope in places like the desert where i write this email to you now... finding hope in the land and in the water and in old books offering new ideas and most importantly in each other and love.
i feel like there was a reason i found "the last whole earth catalogue" and there was a reason your art spoke to me... and i really think it would speak to others who would see it exploding out at them illuminating from the record store shelf or the glow of their phone or computer screen and feel its organic mind blowing distortion connect with this new music.
i also like the natural "distortion" that time and the pulp of the paper meeting the ink from "the last whole earth catalogue" add to your original image and that is why i am asking your permission to use this "distorted" version of your original beautiful image.
i hope you are well and thanks for listening-
Unlike his previous solo albums, James doesn't stray too far from his recognizable rock sound on Uniform Distortion. Essentially, this is a solid LP which his fans (and MMJ fans) should appreciate. Our favorite songs are "Just A Fool," "Out Of Time," "Throwback," "No Secrets," "Yes To Everything," "No Use Waiting," "All In Your Head," and "Over And Over."
Pick up Uniform Distortion on Amazon. It is also available on most major streaming services. You can stream the full album below for free with a Spotify account.
Jim will be heading out on a North American tour starting in November. For concert tickets and more, check out the Jim James Zumic artist page.