If the idea of a synthesized bass line opening a My Morning Jacket record disturbs you, stop reading and go back to your latest issue of No Depression. Your loss. With each release, Jim James and his compadres take another leap, further alienating their alt-country fans while charming a brand-new, broader audience. Z is full of the exquisite, soulful songs we've come to expect from the band, with James's vocals bridging the gap between Neil Young and Al Green. The lushness and reverb reverie of previous records remain, but a prevailing apprehension, a lack of stomping rock tracks and a heavy use of electronics -- including synths and drum-machine beats -- distinguish this album and make it My Morning Jacket's most accessible to date. Let's see: electro touches, a strained atmosphere and a scarcity of straightahead rockers to ease the tension? Should have called it Kid Z.
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