Jim James delivers dynamic solo album

Barry Winslow

For those of you familiar with the southern-tinged hard rock of My Morning Jacket, then the name Jim James is all too familiar.

The band’s charismatic, hefty-bearded frontman is back, but this time on his own. James has emerged back onto the music scene after MMJ’s last release, 2011’s “Circuital,” delivering his first solo album, “Regions of Light and Sound Of God.”

Released on Tuesday, Feb. 5 on the ATO label, “Regions” is a bit different, stylistically speaking, than previous MMJ works. Where MMJ focuses on full-band rock with some reverberated, electric and organic textures, “Regions” finds James focusing on more galactic, synth-driven melodies with jazz and soul influences.

Recorded in his own home studio, “Regions” is sonically elongated, relying heavily on drafty spaces and pauses between his acoustic guitar riffs and stifling, echoed vocals.

For the album’s concept, James dives into his inner beliefs on organized religion, higher spiritual beliefs, lost love and people’s forward progress through life from childbirth to death.

It is hard to label this album as a certain genre, as James pushes himself into multiple musical territories new and fresh to himself, revealing to the listener that he is in fact more than a southern rock mastermind.

The first track, “State Of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.),” is a tempo changer. At first a slow, heartfelt piano serenade, the song gradually picks up speed and smoothly blends into a sexy R&B track with full bass and snappy drum licks.

James howls and hoots over a groove that will leave you tapping your feet and nodding your head subconsciously until the last beat fades.

The third song, “Dear One,” follows a similar structure, but is the cheerful cousin of the sexy opener. Tight fuzzed guitar rips through the harmonious and bright backing, and James loops his voicings, both high and low, for added texture.

The fifth track, “Exploding,” is a short instrumental guitar piece that takes the listener right back to MMJ’s “At Dawn” days with gentle, warm strumming and light violin to back things up.

This flows effortlessly into the next track, “Of the Mother Again,” a groovy track that opens with repeating omnichord patterns and flubby bass.

The low frequencies lift and reveal fluttering guitar and James, who sings so brightfully and robust in a way only he can seem to nail each and every time.

A semi-short album consisting of nine tracks and clocking in at just under 40 minutes, “Regions Of Light and Sound of God” is a truly impressive effort by James simply in the fact that it hints at such a broad range of musical genres but never seems cluttered.

If you are one for indie rock, jazz, R&B, psychedelia or folk, this is a safe bet. It could be said that James brings more excitement to the table when he’s with the rest of the the boys in My Morning Jacket.

However, “Regions of Light and Sound of God” is a short softie and a nice change of pace ­— and well worth a buck a song.