Recorded in response to George Harrison’s 2001 passing, Tribute To arrives strangely late and modestly bare, with Yim Yames (Jim James of My Morning Jacket) offering a hastily recorded six-song memorial for the Beatles guitarist. Even with the small track list, the covers are narrowly selected, two Beatles songs and four from Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, but this presentation is explained by the circumstances of the recording, quickly completed by James alone on an eight-track immediately following Harrison’s death. Beyond a reverential commemoration, Tribute To is most interesting for the opportunity to hear James’s ethereal voice—which has grown steadily into one of the most dynamic, alluring things about My Morning Jacket—presented in these kind of stark compositions, matched only by the lonely strum of an acoustic guitar. The stripped down feeling works at first: “Long Long Long” matches the peaceful tone of the original, further adding to its simplicity to reach a quiet plateau of aching beauty. But this kind of deconstruction is, beyond the added touch of James’s voice, the only thing the album has to offer. The covers attain a ghostly somnolence but also blend together, most of the color drained from the originals in favor of a uniform austerity. It’s hard to imagine why Tribute To is being released now, so long after the fact, but hey, the proceeds go to charity.
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