Album review: Jim James, “Tribute To 2”

by Jon E. Lynch

Jim James, “Tribute To 2”

Available: Friday Dec. 8, via ATO Records as a digital download (MP3 or FLAC), on compact disc, or on a standard black vinyl LP. Deluxe bundles are available direct from the label and include an autographed, limited-edition poster, “Tribute To 2,” and the reissued “Tribute To,” which is an EP of George Harrison & Beatles covers recorded shortly after Harrison’s death in 2001. These bundles are available in both CD and LP versions. This time of year, ANY time of year for that matter, I recommend you support your community’s local independent record store.

With the year 2017 coming to a close, new releases are fewer and further between. I do want to mention that last Friday, Dec. 1, Rhino re-issued two Wilco albums that shouldn’t be overlooked. “A.M.” and “Being There,” two of the finest Wilco records made, get re-released, remastered, and include a good deal of previously unreleased and rare audio alongside quality live recordings. Both come in compact disc and vinyl versions, with limited-edition colored vinyl versions that are likely long sold out. Diehard Wilco fans certainly put the “fan” in fanatical.

Mentioning those releases here isn’t too far a stretch as I imagine many Wilco fans are also, possibly, My Morning Jacket fans. On “Tribute To 2,” MMJ front man Jim James covers artists that likely informed some of his earliest sensibilities as a musician. That and, like any good covers album, they’re just plain fun. The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer all get reinterpreted, more or less faithfully, and that’s barely half the album. Unlike James’ tribute to Harrison, which was recorded right after Harrison’s passing on an eight track reel-to-reel with little else other than guitar and vocals, these covers have been recorded over time, in various locales, and with more depth in instrumentation. My respect and reverence for James and his work with MMJ over the years has increased with each passing release. There is something about a lighthearted but heartfelt set of cover tunes that solidify that even more so.

Recommended for fans of My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Band of Horses, Deer Tick, an honest stab to send up some Americana greats, and cover albums in general.

— Jon E. Lynch[email protected]

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