My Morning Jacket's 'Circuital:' A Return To Their Roots?

By Zachary Swickey

For months, My Morning Jacket have been holed away in a church gymnasium outside their Louisville, Kentucky, hometown, recording their sixth Southern-fried opus, Circuital. Abandoning the more polished sounds of the last few records, the band have stated that the album takes them "back to their roots," with the songs reflecting the laid-back tone of At Dawn and It Still Moves. And, to date, fans have basically had to take their word for it — after all, Circuital doesn't hit stores until May 31 — but on Tuesday,all of that changed, when MMJ gave us the first taste of their new work with a free download of the title track. Upon first glance, you'll probably notice the song clocks in at well over seven minutes, a likely sign that their "roots" claim reigns true given the legendary length of their live sets.

But do the similarities stop there? Well, No. Because based off a few listens of "Circuital," it's safe to say My Morning Jacket are getting back to basics in a big way. Beginning with a mesmerizing, gently-plucked acoustic and frontman Jim James’ high-pitched croon, the song takes a minute (and, since there are seven of them, it's okay) to shift into high gear, but when it does — courtesy of an epic strum of the electric guitar — it recalls the band's biggest moments (and, strangely enough, the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again.") Add rolling keyboards quietly keening in the background and lyrical nods to the interconnectivity of the universe ("Circuits connect the end of the moon/And our heavenly bodies,") the song uplifts the listener and boldly reaches for a higher consciousness. Oh, and just in case you're hurting for some of that classic MMJ live crackle, "Circuital's" got that, too, courtesy of some righteous guitar soloing and an extended, jamming outro.

So, while it certainly looks backward, "Circuital" also pushes My Morning Jacket towards something new, too. A bit of the past, a bit of the future ... like the song says, it's all connected somehow.