4.5 out of 5 stars
Jim James, of My Morning Jacket-fame, has assumed the pseudonym “Yim Yames” and has released one of the most intriguing discs of the year with his gentle six-song EP of George Harrison covers, Tribute To.
Only days after Harrison died of cancer complications on November 21, 2001, James recorded these six tracks live to his cousin’s Fostex eight-track reel-to-reel tape recorder in Shelbyville, Ky.
The EP — magnificently hushed and melancholy — is drenched in James’ trademark reverberated vocals and is a full-on acoustic affair. Supporters of both Harrison and My Morning Jacket’s Acoustic Citsuoca are going to embrace this EP because of its intimate performances and choice song selection.
Harrison was known as “the quiet Beatle” and this somber, sparse tribute is a phenomenal homage to not only Harrison as a songwriter, but also to his humble, unassuming presence.
The six songs include two Harrison–penned Beatles’ covers, “Long, Long, Long” from The White Album and “Love To You” from Revolver. The other four tracks are from Harrison’s 1970 solo album¸ All Things Must Pass, and include “Behind That Locked Door,” “My Sweet Lord,” “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll),” and the title-track “All Things Must Pass.” The two standouts from these covers are “Behind That Locked Door” and “All Things Must Pass,” two oft-overlooked Harrison songs which are performed by James with the upmost sincerity and originality.
As surprising as it might be that these tracks are finally seeing the light of day, having been recorded almost eight years ago in 2001, one can only appreciate the fact that this recording session was finally released. A portion of the EP’s sales are being donated to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. The whole EP is only 26 minutes long, leaving listeners wanting more (possibly the only flaw to the project), but those waiting for more Yames (or James) may not have to wait too much longer. This EP, it appears, is a precursor to James’ full-length solo album, which, according to his website, is “coming soon.”
As with any tribute album, one must harken back to the artist that is being held in tribute and try to imagine what they might have thought of the project. I sincerely believe Harrison would have been touched by the Yim Yames release — a must for any Harrison or My Morning Jacket fan.
— Jonathan Keller