"A New Life" and a New Sound for Jim James
James' voice serves as the only constant on Regions of Light, in that the album's nine tracks include futuristic funk explorations ("Dear One," "Of The Mother Again"), dark meditations ("All Is Forgiven") and jukebox pop balladry ("A New Life"). Recorded both digitally and on tape, Regions of Light was born from the same writing, sampling, piecing and layering experimentation that James has been conducting in his studio since he built it.
"It's not a new process for me. I've always been doing this, but I don't usually release what this is because it winds up turning into a My Morning Jacket record or something," he says. "I always record at home by myself and make soundscapes. I finally got the gear that I like all figured out, and I learned how to use the studio in a way that I could record something for myself in the quality that I wanted it to be in. I play with these tracks in a visual way almost, making sound collages and messing with different effects and stuff. That's one of my favorite things about the computer era of music, is being able to work on music in a different way--just as you'd make a painting with little cubes of colored blocks--and see how that sounds."
This blend of something old and something new--be it represented by the marriage of genres and musical epochs taking place throughout Regions of Light, or the process that created it--carries over to James' live show, as demonstrated by the timeless melody and driving beat that engulfed the Late Night stage. Each project and its subsequent process may be a different bear for James to wrestle, but with a solo effort as strong as this one, it'd be a shame to see him move on to the next thing after a touring cycle or two--especially as he's found an unstoppable new voice in this "new life" of his.
Jim James performs tonight at Music Hall of Williamsburg and tomorrow (2.20) at McKittrick Hotel.