“Monsters of Folk” Review


The supergroup is always cause for uneasiness among audiences, for it never really turns out as wonderful as you’d dreamed.  When I first heard that Jim James, Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, and M. Ward were coming together for Monsters of Folk, I thought, “Hm, that should be interesting.”  I couldn’t see how those artists could come together as one, each being so individually strong.  Then I heard two tracks released before the album’s debut.  First was “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.), to which I reacted with, “Wow, that is so not what I was expecting.  Fantastic.” Then it was “Say Please,” which is completely different than “Dear God” and is an absolute toe-tapper.

What is best about this foursome is that when you listen to the album you can really sense the comradery among them. The group’s self-titled album, “Monsters of Folk”, released on September 22, is fifteen tracks of what sounds like one big jam session among best buddies. The collaboration is effortless and not at all forced.  The only thing that would make this group even more awesome would be if Mogis’ and James’ beards sang a duet.

The chemistry among these four music icons is absolutely undeniable.  Conor, Jim, and M. Ward each sing lead vocals for five songs on the album.  Oberst’s strongest song comes with “Tenazcal”, a Spanish-influenced beauty whose classic Oberst vocals and soft guitar sounds, accompanied by the groups harmonies will entrance you and beg you to give it another listen.  My favorite Ward track is “Goodway”, which has that typical M. sound accompanied by sweet harmonies and beautiful guitar sounds.  Jim James best song, and my personal favorite from the album, is “His Master’s Voice”, which takes that typical Jim James/My Morning Jacket sound and mixes it up into a truly beautiful song that shows you the faith.  This is one of a few songs on the album with the God theme.

Every track on the album is so different from the previous and the harmony of these artists’ voices together is magical.  The songwriting as well, is out of this world, as expected, for each of these guys really know how to write a killer song.  I especially love the lyrics for “Baby Boomer,” “Dear God,” “His Master’s Voice,” and “Man Named Truth.”

If you have not yet given “Monsters of Folk” a whirl, I strongly recommend it.  No matter what your mood, this album, which goes from funky to dance to country to pretty and back to funky, will be exactly what you need.

Here are a few tracks from “Monsters of Folk”:

Baby Boomer “Baby Boomer”
His Master’s Voice “His Master’s Voice”
Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.) “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)