My Morning Jacket
Circuital - ATO
FILTER Grade: 83%
By Marty Sartini Garner on May 31, 2011
My Morning Jacket’s early output went long on high lonesome country and wooly guitars, but since 2005’s Z, the group’s sound has evolved to encompass everything from Who-style rave-ups to P-Funk space jams. With Circuital, the Louisville quintet cycle back, gathering the once-lost elements of their early trademark sound and integrating them into their late-pop experimentation. Weights of pedal steel drop throughout the record, finger-picked guitars duet with strings and synth, and singer Jim James once again uncaps his dexterous vocal cords, belting out “whoa-oh-oh”s over Bo Koster’s mulched keys like Bono circa The Joshua Tree. James’ lyrics, forever a sticky mixture of high-minded spirituality and cultural slang, keep up the theme; nearly each of Circuital’s 10 songs is concerned with the relationship between the past and the present, the development of the individual character, and the quest for something beyond human. “Though there’s a new life nigh, I won’t forget the one I left behind,” James croons on closer “Movin’ Away,” ending the record on a gentle crescendo of walking piano and the air that holds the hanging remnant of his voice. It’s as if everything old has been lifted up, rising to converge.