"Regions of Light Sound of God"Having drawn inspiration from Lynd Ward’s 83-year-old novel, God’s Man, Jim James (of My Morning Jacket) decided that the best way to create fodder for his full-length debut was to fully embrace his growing spirituality. He hunkered down in his home studio in Louisville like a loyal disciple, and patiently crafted each song – playing nearly every instrument himself. The intimate surroundings laid the groundwork for a rich and organic songwriting process, which had him extracting inspiration from a totally different light. It’s an ambitious undertaking full of self-exploratory lyrics – arguably some of his best writing to date. Here are five rousing testimonials from Regions of Light and Sound of God that document James’ ascension to the promised land.

State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)

State of the ArtA contributing factor to man’s disconnect with God is technology, according to the gospel of Jim James. He believes that somewhere along the way technology has thrown mankind on a wayward path, abusing its life-changing affects for trivial pursuits. He’s not in total confederacy against it, but touches upon how it’s capable of doing so much more. And he’s right. James takes it a step further and announces that he wants out, to which static noise is cleverly spliced into the backdrop to indicate his departure. It’s a solid opener lathered in righteous soul: [LISTEN]

We’ve got our wires all crossed
Our tubes are all tied
And I’m straining to remember
Just what it means to be alive

Dear One

Dear One; Photo:N/AJim James writes an open letter to God, exalting the union shared between man and the divine, a relationship that’s been around since “the dawn of humanity.” He extends the letter even further suggesting that it’s God who brings about humanity, and without its presence we would all be reduced to savagery. It’s a crafty piece in that he goes about it at a disciplined pace, never overdoing it and veiling the excessive God-talk with thoughtful writing. The instrumentation works well, and elevates the lyrics, underlining them with rapturous decadence: [LISTEN]

Moving through the ages till today
Two souls alive to meet again this way
In this day in age, blessed to know you
Dear One

Of the Mother Again

Of the Mother AgainBefore James ever began working on Regions of Light... he was already experiencing a seismic shift in perspective – brought on by a life-threatening injury and a tumultuous breakup. Part of his maturation through that time was coming to terms with change, an expansive experience he aligns with destiny. And for as much as those experiences rocked his core, shaping him in ways that helped rescue him from his perpetual free-fall. Here he incorporates the mother of God as another stabilizing force, a comforting figure that shares equal purchase with God: [LISTEN]

No song ever plays
Nothing ever stays the same way for too long
Good or bad, short or sweet, skip a beat
Close your eyes and it’s gone

All Is Forgiven

All Is ForgivenFrom the very beginning you can hear James burying himself up to his neck in guilt, begging for forgiveness on behalf of all of mankind. It’s a well constructed song, and James does a notable job of creating a pious moodscape; wailing over his omnichord like a man giving a deathbed confessional. It carries on like that for a while, and by the end it’s hard not to imagine him writhing on the floor in hopes of absolution: [LISTEN]

I follow all the wrong dream
Lost in man’s schemes
Oh lord, I pray that all is forgiven

God’s Love to Deliver

God's Love to DeliverJames closes the album by invoking the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He draws a line between Dr. King  and God, suggesting that they shared an undeniable connection. James then goes on to throw himself into the equation, which depending on you how you look at it can be a bit self-righteous. Thematically it’s a lot like “All is Forgiven,” with its apocalyptic chords and languid percussion, and it’s a creative decision that emphasizes James’ cyclical state of mind: [LISTEN]

Direct connection, straight to the source
Fate had delivered a feeling so pure
Negating all evil, we have found the Lord
And out hearts reborn