Its backstory ultimately more interesting than the album itself, I’m Not Jim’s You Are All My People never gives the impression that it’s more than just a one-off novelty project. Beginning as a two-day-long collaboration between novelist Jonathan Lethem (who, it’s worth noting, does not appear on the recording of the album) and Walter Salas-Humara of pioneering alt-country band the Silos, I’m Not Jim also includes the production duo the Elegant Too, so it hardly surprises that the act doesn’t sound like the work of a legitimate band. What does surprise, then, is that it bears none of Lethem’s literary high-mindedness or Salas-Humara’s classic and folk-rock styles. Straightforward and uninspired guitar-pop with the occasional organ flourish thrown in, songs like “The Pitchers Gave Up” and “Uncomplicated” don’t offer any memorable melodies or inventive chord progressions. Lethem’s lyrics rarely rise above the mundane: “Drink ‘Til I’m Sober” opens with the uninspired, “I’m gonna roll ‘til it’s over/I’m gonna drink ‘til I’m sober/Gonna roll right through the night/Gonna let it be wrong and let it be right,” while “Meter Running in a Crashed Cab” and “Hoping for a Comeback” leave little interpretive leeway in their narratives. The only really distinguishing element to the record is three spoken-word tracks, which are more odd than genuinely effective either as jokes (such as the botched-punchlines of “Walks Into”) or theme-enhancing asides. With You Are All My People, I’m Not Jim proves that even incredibly talented people should be cautious when following through on their “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” scenarios.
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