Jim James – “The World Is Falling Down” (Abbey Lincoln Cover)

At the end of last month, My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James announced a new solo album, a collection of covers called Tribute To 2. (The name marks it as a sequel to James’ first solo release, an EP of George Harrison covers.) He introduced the project with a psych-soul rendition of the Beach Boys’ “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times,” and now he’s back with another preview: his reading of Abbey Lincoln’s 1990 track “The World Is Falling Down,” a song he’s covered onstage in the past.

Where James injected “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” with some subtle jazz flourishes, he reverses the process here, taking Lincoln’s original jazz song and stripping it down to a sparse acoustic folk song. If you aren’t familiar with Lincoln’s work or didn’t know this was from Tribute To 2, it’d be easy to mistake it as a James original; with gentle fingerpicked guitar and plenty of reverb coating James’ melancholic keen, it’s an interpretation that fits firmly within the man’s wheelhouse. And, like “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times,” there’s something resonant in James selecting this song in 2017. “The world is falling down/ Hold my hand,” he plaintively sings in the chorus, his ever-expressive voice conveying grief and anxiety and solace all at once. Check it out below.

Tribute To 2 is out 12/8 via ATO. Pre-order it here.