My Morning Jacket has evolved and expanded its sound so much from the reverb-aglow pastoral folk of its origins that releasing the obligatory exploratory solo album doesn’t actually seem that obligatory, but Jim James went ahead and made Regions of Light and Sound of God on his own anyway.
To James’ credit — and to his advantage, given his main project’s unpalatable post-Ween jam-band inclinations lately — the record sounds very little like MMJ. It’s a chance for the Louisville hero once known for his Flying V and bobbing Skynyrd mane to explore trip-hop, jazz and marital-bliss-era Lennon with an ambient palette that sounds more like stars above than beasts below.
On the resplendent and maybe-meta single “A New Life,” it works exceptionally. On the schmaltzy, heavy-handed “Actress,” not so much. Either way, calling out for “One Big Holiday” during Tuesday’s show at the Newport with Cold Specks will probably be like yelling “Free Bird” at any concert ever, i.e. futile and ill-advised.