My Morning Jacket – Itunes Session

What’s that you say? A month after Christmas is too late (or early) to be reviewing an EP containing Christmas songs? Pish posh. The shops get in early on Christmas, so why shouldn’t we? Now you’re saying we’re not a shop? Methinks the reader doth protest too much. Clearly your denial is hiding a deep affection for Christmas songs. Therefore, dear reader, please accept this review as my early (or late) gift to you. Lots of love, XOXO.

As a writer, I’ll be the first to admit that these guys are outside my comfort zone (which lies more around rock and metal). With that in mind, I actually quite like this record, though I’m finding it so relaxing that trying to write about it while listening to it is difficult.

The iTunes Session is a very chilled affair, consisting of three originals and four covers. It kicks off with “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” which has a very lounge-y sound to it, though with some added synths. Following this, “Welcome Home” is one of two new originals on the EP, and begins with only an acoustic guitar behind the vocals before the rest of the instruments kick in after the first chorus. Up next is the cover of “Please Come Home For Christmas” – a nice little ditty in with a simple piano lead backed back full drums and bass, and a chilled electric guitar solo. This is one of my favourite tracks; I’m a sucker for 6/8 time.

Another cover, “Christmas Must Be Tonight”. The chorus is structured a little differently to what I’d expected, which is by no means a bad thing. It’s one of those times where the metre allows it to get stuck in one’s head with relative ease. They’ve kept reasonably true to the original by The Band, the most blatant difference being the lack of an organ, yet they’ve managed to adapt it nicely to fit the EP. 

Their rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is mostly arpeggiated acoustic guitar, although there are some electronics there in places that are reminiscent of chiptunes, but with some added delay for good measure.

Reworked from their recent album, Circuital, “Wonderful” has a slightly tension-building intro before jumping into vocals over a sparsely-strummed electric guitar. At about 1:30 the synths kick in and slowly build up for the next few minutes, until it becomes a hauntingly beautiful mix of reverbed piano and angelic synths, with guitars fading to a more supporting role at the end. Then there’s the slightly more intense “When the Bells Start Ringing”, which has a bluesy, country lilt to it and rounds out the EP nicely.

My Morning Jacket’s iTunes Session may just be the record I relax to after a long, stressful December 25th dealing with the in-laws. Not that I have any in-laws at the moment. Ladies 😉
 
by Mike Young

January 16th 2012
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