My Morning Jacket can no longer be considered a ramblin’ bunch of Kentucky whiskey boys. Evil Urges, their fifth studio jam, sounds downright urban at times, and shape-shifting singer Jim James seems influenced more by Prince than by Harvest-era Neil Young.
Although James hatched these songs in a Virginia cabin, the band, along with producer Joe Chiccarelli, came together for sessions in a swank mid-Manhattan studio – a far cry from the days James would track his vocals in a grain silo. It might come as a shock to the Bonnaroo set, but listen to their last album, Z, close enough and you can hear James’ R&B jones emerging.
The title track’s soulful falsetto vocal and David Campbell arranged strings say it all. Highly Suspicious is an anomalous funk-rock throwdown, and Thank You Too! could become an American wedding standard. Scattered and uneven, but not without its charms.
My Morning Jacket play the Kool Haus Monday (June 16).