ow to experience My Morning Jacket’s At Dawn without actually listening to the album (in six easy steps).
1) Go to a bar alone, preferably right after your significant other has left you. And not just any bar, the biggest dump you can find. The more NASCAR memorabilia on the wall, the better.
2) Play any random, non-Crazy Horse Neil Young solo album the bar might have in its jukebox(with the exception of Freedom, Trans, or really any of his eighties material in general. Also, avoid any Pearl Jam collaborations.).
3) Get suitably drunk.
4) Sit alone, stare at the TV,and think about where you went wrong.
5) Add reverb.
6) Add some more reverb.
That’s basically the gist of it. I could end the review right now if I wanted to...but it would be kind of short...Hmm...Okay, I’ll keep going.
If you’ve heard any non-Crazy Horse Neil Young album, or anyone of Will Oldham’s projects you’ve probably heard this album before. To say that this album isn’t very original would be a gross understatement. In fact, the band sounds so much like Neil Young at times that I expect them to break into "After the Gold Rush", "Heart of Gold", "Needle and the Damage Done", or "Long May You Run" at any second. But, let’s not dwell on that. What I should be talking about is Jim James’ songwriting, or his voice, or the enthusiasm of the band, or the amount of reverb they use on the vocals...well, I shouldn’t dwell on that either. On second thought, I will dwell on that. They use so much reverb on Jim James’ vocals that it sounds as if he was singing through a megaphone at the bottom of a well. This isn’t a bad thing. I just figured that I should point that out.
Anyway, the album itself is typical, no-nonsense alt-country/country rock material. Nothing especially groundbreaking, just fourteen great songs. Ranging from the bright harmonies and full production of "X-Mas Curtain" and "The Way That He Sings" to the lonesome, lo-fi banjo of "It Smashes Down" to the straightforward rock of "Just Because I Do".
It is easily one of my favorite albums of the past year, always an enjoyable listening experience. Make sure to find the double disc version of the album which includes demos of the finished product as well as some unreleased material. Definitely worth every penny.
Reviewed by: Matt Golden
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01