It’s been two and a half years since My Morning Jacket released their last album, 2015’s excellent The Waterfall, and though its once-rumored sister album never materialized, frontman Jim James has kept pretty busy since. Aside from always being on the road with MMJ, there’s been the reissue of one of the band’s best LPs, 2003’s It Still Moves, as well as James’ politically-charged, spaced-out psych-soul solo record Eternally Even last year. Now, he’s back with another solo outing, a collection of covers called Tribute To 2.
That name calls back to James’ solo EP Tribute To, a handful of acoustic George Harrison covers that James — then under the moniker Yim Yames — recorded upon news of the Beatle’s death but didn’t release until 2009. (His rendition of “The Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let it Roll)” is worth revisiting in particular, James’ cavernous voice communicating in-the-moment mourning.) Tribute To 2 finds James interpreting songs by a range of artists, from Irving Berlin to people he’s covered before like Elvis and Bob Dylan. The songs were recorded over the course of several years, and will be accompanied by a re-release of the original Tribute To with a bonus cover of Dylan’s “If Not For You,” which Harrison recorded for his 1970 masterpiece All Things Must Pass.
Along with the announcement, James shared a preview of the album: his take on the Beach Boys classic (and Pet Sounds highlight) “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times,” which is one song from 1966 that is way too relatable in the 21st century. Equally inspired by Isaac Hayes’ 1969 rendition of “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” James keeps the light psychedelia of the Beach Boys’ original “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” but recontextualizes it, adding jazz inflections and soulful horn blasts at the song’s conclusion. And of course, the dude’s voice sounds as great as ever. Check it out below.
Tribute To 2 tracklist:
01 “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” (The Beach Boys)
02 “Baby Don’t Go” (Sonny & Cher)
03 “Wild Honey” (Dianne Izzo)
04 “Midnight, the Stars and You” (Ray Noble & al Bowlly)
05 “Crying in the Chapel” (Elvis Presley)
06 “Funny How Time Slips Away” (Willie Nelson)
07 “Love Is The Sweetest Thing” (Ray Noble & Al Bowlly)
08 “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” (Bob Dylan)
09 “Lucky Man” (Emerson, Lake 7 Palmer)
10 “The World is Falling Down” (Abbey Lincoln)
11 “Blue Skies” (Irving Berlin)
Tribute To 2 is out 12/8 via ATO. Pre-order it here.