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A Love Letter to My Morning Jacket’s ‘Z’

(Photo Credit - Danny Clinch)

With the recent special limited reissue of purple vinyl copies of My Morning Jacket’s Z after approximately 15 years of being out of print, it got me thinking about the band‘s critically acclaimed release. First, you know I was able to score one of the copies on vinyl. Next I'd love to talk about why this record is so special to me, and it all starts with the song "Off the Record".

"Off the Record" is not the most popular song by MMJ by any stretch, however it was my first proper introduction to the band in college, and I couldn't get enough. Right from the jump, the ripping guitars had me hook, line, and sinker. Vocalist Jim James' range blew my mind. I had never heard such dynamic vocals on an alternative record. It didn't stop with "Off the Record".

The whimsical melody of "Into the Woods" when paired with James' signature vocals also makes this track a longtime favorite of mine. James' lyrical abilities also hit home on this one. I'd also like to take a second to highlight "What a Wonderful Man". I'm no dancer, but when I get a chance to see MMJ live, if they play this one, I will be dancing my socks off. "Gideon" is another classic track from Z. In it James takes it to another level vocally. The track is a watershed moment on the album, where I always find myself at attention. I find myself similarly hooked about 3:30 minutes in on "Dondante" when MMJ absolutely tears the house down on the finale of Z.

I've gone this long without mentioning "Wordless Chorus", one of the band's most beloved hits. This isn't because I don't like the song or think it overrated, but rather I wanted to give the rest of the album a chance to shine first. "Wordless Chorus" is a shining example of what make MMJ so great. It displays the band's signature psychedelic-tinged melodies that are somehow perfectly complemented by their own personal style of alt/rock. It's true, there are times the band also leans a bit toward the alt/country side of music, but that's one of the reasons I love this band so much. They're a unicorn of sound that must be heard to be believed. The band has done nothing but get better as time has gone on. However, many consider Z to be their best work yet and I totally understand why.

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