Yim Yames: Tribute To CD review (Shockhound)

Yim Yames is, of course, Jim James from My Morning Jacket, and TRIBUTE TO is the guitarist/vocalist’s homage to the work of George Harrison. Recorded back in 2001, in the aftermath of Harrison’s passing, the six songs on this EP find Yames, er, James at his threadbare best; there’s nothing here in the way of productions or arrangements, just voice, guitar, some tasteful harmonic overdubs, and an occasional banjo pluck or piano plonk. While Neil Young is often cited as James’ most obvious influence, it’s clear by the emotional tenor of these rough and ragged renditions that the soft-spoken Beatle meant at least as much to this Kentucky boy as did Shakey. And even though it’s split evenly between some of Harrison’s more well-known songs — “Love You To,” “All Things Must Pass,” “My Sweet Lord” – and some deeper cuts – “Long Long Long,” “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let it Roll),” “Behind That Locked Door” – TRIBUTE TO manages to evoke none of Harrison’s spiritual elegance or even any of his rockist traditionalism. Instead, James transforms all of the numbers here into sparse and plaintive acoustic songs. Harrison may not have approved of the melancholy narcissism at the root of these new versions, but he certainly would have offered no protest to their heartfelt delivery.

First appeared Aug. 4, 2009 at Shockhound.com.

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