Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Music & Shows

Review: Jim James' 'Regions of Light and Sound of God' is otherworldly

Jim James is from Louisville, Ky., but calling him a country act is a stretch. Sure, the otherworldly singer often sounds as if he's lost in deep echoing woods, but only because that's where his spaceship crash-landed.

The man who refers to himself as "Yim Yames" is an eccentric and then some, never more so than on curiouser new LP Regions of Light and Sound of God, his first official sabbatical from his day gig leading My Morning Jacket.

The critically beloved (if cultishly appreciated saleswise) MMJ doesn't do normal, either. With James as its loopy frontman, the Southern Gothic rock band's albums are head-snapping epics ranging from space boogie to metallic jams to country-flecked anthemic rock.

By his lonesome, James is far less aggressive and far more spiritually concerned — both musically and lyrically — which might be a problem for some. But if you're in the mood for warm, gauzy cocoons of trippery: bingo.

Some might know James for his high-arching onscreen rendition of Goin' to Acapulco that was the gut-punch climax to 2007 Dylan biopic I'm Not There. That was a forceful, front-of-the-mix vocal, a starmaking moment. On Regions of Light and Sound of God, James, who can also be a ferocious guitar player, is in no mood to show off any which way. This is for your chill-out moments, religious and otherwise. On the standout track All Is Forgiven, his voice comes off like a muted muezzin's call, the loping, reverent song nothing less than Middle Eastern jazz bop.

On the Cat Stevens-ish New Life, a cut seemingly born in a sunny '70s meadow ("Babe, let's get one thing clear / There's much more stardust / When you're near"), a midsong tempo change doesn't affect his soft sweet vocal until the very end, when things chug. Even more mellow, he hits a starlight falsetto on God's Love to Deliver, which posits Martin Luther King as deified mouthpiece.

James' dismissal of typical pop routes might be a turnoff to some, but he's not an elitist. An instrumental called Exploding is just as heart-melting as and reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel's April Come She Will from The Graduate. A slyly plodding State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.) is a headphone special that plays with words and sound effects, James' "state of the art"-ness fizzing out at the end. And the relatively grooving Know Til Now is James' own weirdo version of disco — just don't expect the Bee Gees.

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

Comments
Inside Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s first Christmas without leader Paul O’Neill

Inside Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s first Christmas without leader Paul O’Neill

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A half hour to curtain, Al Pitrelli unwinds on a couch in his spartan dressing quarters, fresh off a loading-dock Marlboro. He’s deep inside an arena, about to play the 29th show in the 18th city of the Trans-Siberian ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
2018 Gasparilla Music Festival lineup: The Roots, Spoon, Father John Misty and more

2018 Gasparilla Music Festival lineup: The Roots, Spoon, Father John Misty and more

Got your tickets to the Gasparilla Music Festival yet? No? You better hurry up, because after today's initial lineup announcement, they might go fast.Tonight Show house band the Roots and indie rock heroes Father John Misty and Spoon top the initial ...
Published: 12/13/17
This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Katy Perry, Jingle Ball, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and more

This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Katy Perry, Jingle Ball, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and more

WHERE’S THE PURPOSE? Katy PerryYou can pinpoint the exact moment when things started to unravel for Katy Perry’s Witness. It was 12:23 a.m. on Feb. 10, when she tweeted of her latest musical direction: "We gonna call this era Purposeful Pop." You kin...
Published: 12/13/17
Sounds of the Season opening act for Hernando Symphony Orchestra in 2017-18

Sounds of the Season opening act for Hernando Symphony Orchestra in 2017-18

BROOKSVILLE — Impressive guest performances, student nights and 25 new pieces of music are just a few of the exciting additions to the Hernando Symphony Orchestra’s 2017-18 season.And when the orchestra opens the season with the Sounds of the Season ...
Published: 12/13/17
Even post-Weinstein, 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' is extremely popular

Even post-Weinstein, 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' is extremely popular

Gifts are wrapped, halls are decked and people are on Twitter calling Baby, It’s Cold Outside a "sexual predator anthem." It’s a holiday tradition for the social media age. Pointing out the creepiness of the song — or "rapeyness," ...
Published: 12/13/17
Nina Simone, Bon Jovi, The Cars top 2018 Rock Hall of Fame inductees

Nina Simone, Bon Jovi, The Cars top 2018 Rock Hall of Fame inductees

NEW YORK — Iconic singer Nina Simone and New Jersey rockers Bon Jovi lead the 2018 class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, which includes four first-time nominees. The Cars, as well as first-time contenders Dire Straits, The Moody Blues and Si...
Published: 12/13/17
Before Tampa tour stop, Katy Perry’s creative team breaks down her Witness Tour’s ‘big, bold images’

Before Tampa tour stop, Katy Perry’s creative team breaks down her Witness Tour’s ‘big, bold images’

In the ever-escalating arms race to be the most eye-popping pop star on the planet, sometimes you have to call in for backup. Even if you’re Katy Perry.When plotting her lavishly spectacular Witness Tour, which arrives in Tampa on Friday, Perry turne...
Published: 12/13/17
Mary J. Blige coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

Mary J. Blige coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

An icon of modern R&B is coming to town to warm your winter right up.Mary J. Blige, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, is coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa on Feb. 21, part of her ongoing Strength of a Woman Tour. Tickets start at $47.25 and go on sale at 10 a...
Published: 12/12/17
Kesha, Macklemore coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Kesha, Macklemore coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Brush your teeth with Jack Daniel's and put on your grandpa's hand-me-downs, because Kesha and Macklemore are teaming up for a summer tour.The pop outcasts-turned-heroes will hit the road for a 30-city trek that includes a stop at Tampa's MidFlorida ...
Published: 12/11/17
Dead and Company’s Orlando concert, postponed after John Mayer’s appendectomy, rescheduled for Feb. 27

Dead and Company’s Orlando concert, postponed after John Mayer’s appendectomy, rescheduled for Feb. 27

John Mayer is on the mend, and Dead and Company are making plans to get back on the road.The Grateful Dead-honoring supergroup has rescheduled several concerts postponed by Mayer's emergency appendectomy this week, including a Dec. 7 date at Orlando'...
Published: 12/08/17