My Morning Jacket – Z
Z, My Morning Jacket’s fourth album, was a departure from their previous alt-country efforts that veers into more psychedelic territory. Jim James’ signature heavily reverberated vocals are still there, but the loss and replacement of two members, along with utilizing a producer that WASN’T also the lead singer, put the band on a path towards what would become their defining sound. Z was MMJ’s best-selling album to date when it came out in 2005 and it’s easy to see why. Like many famous psychedelic albums before it, Z incorporates a wide variety of influences and packages them up in 10 well-crafted tracks (11 tracks if you have the vinyl). You have the ever-catchy radio-friendly single “Off the Record” on the same side as the whimsically eerie waltz “Into the Woods.” It’s a trip that takes you on quite a few twists and turns but gets you there in the end with a feeling of satisfaction in a journey well travelled.
While I had been a casual fan of My Morning Jacket since their third album, It Still Moves, it was Z that really solidified my fandom of the band. At the time it was a sound that really jived with my interests and it stuck with me. Aside from their live album “Okonokos,” Z is the album of theirs I listen to most. There’s just so much to love here, and each listening yields something new to enjoy. Z is an album that is not just listened to, but is EXPERIENCED. It’s an excellent jumping-on point for the band and highly recommended if you want an album you can really sink into and enjoy.