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My Morning Jacket 

It Still Moves

Wednesday, Oct 29 2003
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On It Still Moves, My Morning Jacket's glowing third album (and first for ATO/ RCA), the band pounces on its Southern-rock roots, morphing familiar and beloved classic-rock dashes into ethereal expanses. Absent is any major-label-debut hesitancy; in fact, It Still Moves beams with a tempting, irreverent confidence.

Here, the five-plus-minute song once again rules, as frontman and producer Jim James leads revved-up guitars and a blistering, darting rhythm section through barroom sprawls and backyard jams. Some tracks tease and unravel cautiously ("I Will Sing You Songs"), while others steamroll, blasting off from the word "go" ("One Big Holiday"), more often than not chugging along toward an old-fashioned guitar-solo free-for-all. These jams, along with the Memphis-style horn lines and liquor-soaked piano fills, recall the group's forebears (the Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc.), but it's James' singing, at once disinterested and deeply personal, always clean and pure, that distinguishes this collection. His otherworldly vocals pilot these songs away from the traditional and into the inspirational.

On the driving standout "Dancefloors," James sings, "Some things are everywhere/ So for the past I'm diggin' a grave so big, it will swallow up the sea," as if acknowledging the band's rock roots and boasting its invigorated reinvention of them. It Still Moves demonstrates a remarkable hindsight of '70s rock and soul that, when combined with MMJ's ethereal vocals and playful urgency, actually becomes a kind of foresight. So when James belts on the bottom-heavy "Master Plan," "I got a master plan babe/ I been workin' on it from the start," it seems increasingly clear that he indeed does and that it indeed sparkles.

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Benjamin Friedland

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