Jim James has spent the better part of almost two decades as the lead singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist of My Morning Jacket. Through seven studio albums, My Morning Jacket has grown into one of the most acclaimed rock and roll bands in the world. The New York Times heralded the band as, “…the new kings of expand-your-mind, religious-experience rock…” Their last three albums, 2008’s Evil Urges, 2011’s Circuital and 2015’s The Waterfall, each received Grammy nominations for Best Alternative Album — the latter debuting at number 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. Alongside the band’s recording and touring, James has maintained a steady, bordering on voracious, flow of work.
In 2013, James released his debut solo record, Regions of Light and Sound of God. James wrote, produced and played all instruments himself (except for strings and some percussion) for the record, which was inspired by life and the 1929 novel (written in woodcuts), ‘God’s Man’ by Lynd Ward. It was named one of the best albums of the year by PASTE, MTV and FUSE and was “the year’s first great record” (GQ). A performance of track “A New Life” on the then-hosted Late Night earned high praise from the now-Tonight Show host, Jimmy Fallon just this year: “”…to this day my favorite musical performance was ‘A New Life’ on Late Night that we did…He [Jim James] is fantastic. I love him”.
In 2016 James released the politically charged solo record, Eternally Even. Rolling Stone described as, “nine flamboyantly spiritual songs wrapped in creamy electronics and set to funk and hip hop beats…an eccentric, gently compelling pleasure. [Jim James] renders his change gospel with conversational grace, Bill Withers warmth, Sly Stone optimism and Neil Young conviction”. The album’s release saw him embark on a national tour with appearances on the Tonight Show, the Late Late Show with James Corden and a debut at #1 on Billboard Alternative chart. The album topped many year-end ‘best’ lists, with NPR praising the record’s “arresting, soulful … transcendent tunes”.
James’ released his third solo album, Uniform Distortion, in June 2019, which was received with immediate acclaim. “A giddily powerful response to these troubled times,” hailed the Guardian in its 4-star review. “His mix of musical joie de vivre and lyrical home truths prove fiendishly effective.” The Washington Post said, “With driving guitar riffs and catchy hooks combined with his signature soaring vocals, James delivers an utterly engaging, hard-charging, straight-ahead record that almost feels like a throwback to a different era while also being very much current,” while American Songwriter claimed, “”There are enough artistic twists and turns to please even the most dedicated Jacket fan, showing that James remains as musically edgy as ever on an album that pulses with energy, enthusiasm and the restless spirit James has always personified.” Four months after Uniform Distortion was released, James followed with the companion record of Uniform Clarity comprising acoustic renditions of the songs in a more stripped down and honest response to what went before.
Although splitting his time between LA and Kentucky, James has little plan to remain in one place. James has continued expanding on his zealous lists of credits, lending his voice to albums by the likes of the Roots, David Lynch, Brandi Carlile and John Fogerty and partnering with other artists on numerous side projects such as New Multitudes, Monsters of Folk, and T-Bone Burnett’s The New Basement Tapes. Known for his live performances, James has found himself in the touring company of those like Neil Young, Pearl Jam, and Bob Dylan – even appearing in the Dylan-inspired film, I’m Not There – and My Morning Jacket supported Roger Waters as his surprise backing band during famed Newport Folk Festival in 2015. He has embedded himself in the world of film and television, be it through the use of his music in various projects or his long-running relationships with those in the field. James has also established himself as a producer in his own right, producing records by Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Dean Wareham, Basia Bulat, Amo Amo, and Ray Lamontagne’s Ouroboros (2016), the same year in which he collaborated with NASA for the launch of their Juno Mission and Sundance Film Festival and their “Freedom of Expression” event. In the fall of 2018, James embarked on successful, intimate, career-spanning solo acoustic tour, which saw him play sold out dates through historic theatres and performing arts centers across the United States. In Spring 2019, James will set out on the Jim James Presents Uniform Distortion Tour, playing the complete record with a full band for the first time nationally.