Obscuro: My Morning Jacket – Acoustic Citsuoca (EP, 2004)

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by Matt Reynolds

Followers in awe of lead singer Jim James’ piercing tenor will find a number of rarities from My Morning Jacket — the Louisville-based rock band appearing at this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival along with headliner Simon and Garfunkel, among many, many others.

Few are more interesting, however, than this gem, “Acoustic Citsuoca.” The vinyl EP carries with it a certain mystique that adds something special to the band’s riveting six-track acoustic collection.

While the cover of the album reads it was recorded at the Startime Pavilion in Braintree, Massachusetts on October 1, 2003, there are reports that the show in fact never occurred. At least not in this universe. The actual recordings reportedly took place in Austin, Dallas and Atlanta sometime during October of 2003.

If anything, this small collection of live recordings puts to rest the myth that MMJ’s enchanting sounds and melodies are a product of drowning reverb over James’ voice. While, of course, the band has used the technique on many of its tracks on past albums, there have been plenty of tunes in the past where James’ incredibly versatile range just made it appear to be tampered with too much.

Despite one’s feelings on the band, this amazing acoustic collection in which James’ goes solo on three out of the six tracks has the listener in awe of the Kentucky kid’s falsetto.

The album opens up with a “The Bear,” an encouraging message of renewal that is absolute candy to the ears and mind: The time is near, to come forward with whatever killed your spark./There’s still time, for you, to change your mind or whatever else you do.

A rare performance of “Sooner,” off the MMJ’s Chocolate and Ice EP follows before the band exits and James and his guitar send the listener into a melodic trance with a classic performance of “Bermuda Highway” of the bands 2001 full length album At Dawn. (Oh, don’t carve me out! Don’t let your silly dreams, fall in between the crack of the bed and the wall.) James’ delicate yet powerful voice resonates in your head for weeks after hearing this reminder of holding on your past, the good and the bad.

The real treat on this intimate collection has to be “Golden” from their 2003 album It Still Moves. (People always told me that bars are dark and lonely and talk is often cheap and filled with air. Sure sometimes they thrill me, but nothin’ could ever chill me. Like the way they make the time just disappear.) This personal piece seems written straight from the mind of a writing rocker on the road, looking for something more. It sounds painfully hopeful in this live setting.

The collection ends with a lover’s plea in “Hopefully” and a lover’s goodbye in a classic version of “By My Car,” which is only available on the vinyl copy.

Matthew Reynolds

A veteran newspaper reporter, web designer and editor, Matthew Reynolds has worked for Hanna Publishing, Tiger Rag as assistant editor, the daily newspaper in Monroe, Louisiana, and radio station KMAR. Follow him on Twitter: @mattreynolds10. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
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