My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall
It’s been a full decade since My Morning Jacket hit their undisputed peak. 2005’s Z was a masterpiece of soaring, momentous rock that fit together the Dead, the Who, and the Flying Burrito Brothers. When they released the scattered, utterly forgettable Evil Urges as a followup in 2008, the band was written off, and despite a decent comeback attempt in 2011 with the solid Circuital they have obviously gone down the same path of descent as Band of Horses or Plants and Animals.
All of this makes The Waterfall something of an unexpected treat. Rather than continue down their road, they stop and make a case for being one of the great…slightly less appreciated bands? There’s no point in pretending that they’re obscure – they were an episode-long obsession for Stan Smith on American Dad after all – but their stature has certainly depreciated. “Believe (Nobody Knows)” is a great classic rock track though, and “Spring (Among The Living)” features some searing guitar work that holds its own with the great works of the past. “Big Decisions” is a crunching anthem shot through with pedal steel guitar, and serves as a perfect reminder of the power that country inflection in music can have when it’s done right. “Only Memories Remain” is a textbook closer, something to ride the sunset out on at a festival, but it has a hook that will stick in your head and leave you singing it at 2 AM when you actually should be sleeping. If it sounds like I have first hand experience in this then you would be right.
The Waterfall is at it’s heart a stellar summer album, something to listen to in a field, or on the deck, or while on a hike. It screams early evening relaxation and mid-afternoon sunshowers in equal measure, and the juxtaposition is epic.