“If you don’t vote it’s on you, not me,” Jim James sings on his second solo album. It’s an election-year entreaty geared towards too-pure leftoid lintheads, but the song is no screed, befitting a guy whose music usually turns inward. James floats his humidly ethereal soul mumble over seven minutes of a languid beat, cottony strings and chill organ bleat. Throughout Eternally Even, the My Morning Jacket mainman renders his change gospel with conversational grace, Bill Withers warmth, Sly Stone optimism and Neil Young conviction – less soap box pugilist than lazy-Sunday sage.
The music recalls Aquarian soul, Nineties trip-hop and laser-gun funk: “True Nature” ties a find-your-mission message to a hazily coiled Blacksploitation groove; the loose flowing prettiness of “Here in Spirit” links today’s battles to a history of struggle. The sonic spaciness can sometimes undercut James’ less probing moments (“This world is war and blood when it could’ve been love,” he observes on “We Ain’t Getting Any Younger (Pt. 2.)” More often, the effect is charming. The gentlest moment is the title cut, in which his Kentucky coo cuddles against a track that’s like Dark Side of the Moon as an astral doo-wop lovers prayer, reaching for a personal and social over-the-rainbow moment of Zen so sweetly visioned it feels like it’s already unfolding –walking in the shadows, tripping towards the light. It’s a place where we can all collapse into in a relieved breathless heap after Trump gets dusted.