Jim is an incredible songwriter and musician, that is not in question. I wasn't quite sure what direction he would go with the tone and style of his new album and apparently neither was he. After listening to the first track, "State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U)" I was pretty excited. The song seems to call homage to classic rock, in an on purpose low-fi quality. It's as if Bad Company came and had a sexy Jim James baby. I really love this song and it's by far his best work on the album. As the album moves on though it almost seems as if he's calling upon classic rock to guide him, and he doesn't seem to find a style or through-line that holds steady. Many of the tracks are great, but when listened to as a whole this work is not cohesive for me.
If you listen to the next three songs they are all over the place and it doesn't get any better.
"Know Til Now" has a somewhat funky feel, but it's very compressed and produced and it doesn't seem to build as we move through the song, which is important since it's six minutes long.
"Dear One," Is one of the better tracks on the album, and I wish he'd stay in this mode a little more. The ambient yet frenetic piano holds well and James' voice is slightly rhythmic, and slightly that of a Zappa like story-man.
"A New Life," Now he takes on a weird, Pink Floyd like take on this song and it doesn't completely work for me. There are nice pace as the song goes along. But now I've heard four different Jim James' and I don't know what to think. The end of this song is really nice though, but I have a hard time getting past the first minute.
If you make it to the end of the album, then you'll hear "God's Love to Deliver." Easily my least favorite track on the album. James voice is highly compressed and not natural at all. It's borderline annoying and grating. The ambient tone and swaying guitars and synths here are just not for me. If you like this, I'm sorry for dissing on it, but this is not what I expected after listening to the first bit of the album.
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