Uniform Clarity (Dig)


aec.atrd823350.2 10/5/18 New
$11.88 $13.98

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    Uniform Clarity (Dig) ATO

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Review Text Jim James' Uniform Clarity is the mirror image of his Uniform Distortion issued a mere four months prior. While the earlier album was straight-up, lo-fi indie rock guitar trio, this effort strips that all away, offering the same tunes in a slightly different sequence performed solo with an acoustic guitar. What's more, a good number of these songs are often radically rearranged. Here James illustrates his way of getting at perceived truths by understated means in exercises of self-reflection with societal jeremiads woven through. Opener "Just a Fool" contains the same melody as its earlier version, but it has been slowed considerably, to sound like a backporch picker singing to the moon and stars about his spiritual confusion. The overdriven blast and burn of the former's "You Get to Rome" is given a sparse country-rag-blues treatment that owes a debt to both Elizabeth Cotten and Mississippi John Hurt. Where the former's "No Secrets" married the mutant Americana of Neil Young and Crazy Horse's Zuma to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, this version is a spectral, seemingly half-realized acoustic demo, though the emotion expressed here resonates as far more desperate. The proto-rockabilly garage rock in Uniform Distortion's celebratory "Yes to Everything" is now a Dylan-esque reverie on life gone by. The vintage girl group melody and sprightly tempo in "Over and Over" is essentially the same as its predecessor, but the minimal presentation makes the lyric more poignant. Two extra tracks are unique to this proceeding: the strummed major sevenths in "It Will Work Out" recall Tim Hardin at his most optimistic, while closer "Flash in the Pan" is a good-natured paean to an all-too-brief love affair that weds the Southern soul of Dan Penn to Dylan's John Wesley Harding-esque Americana. In sum, Uniform Clarity earns the vision expressed by its title through its reflective tone. It's quaint yet enjoyable but doesn't deliver the same power or joie de vivre of its far more boisterous predecessor. ~ Thom Jurek

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