My Morning Jacket has carved out a comfortable niche between worlds. The band jams, but it’s not a jam band. Frontman Jim James’ melodies frequently reference the Southern rock and soul music of the ’60s and ’70s, but he’s happy enough to strut around the stage wearing a sampler — the iconic instrument of hip-hop production — as a necklace. Their music hits a nice balance between today (spacey noise) and yesterday (Skynyrd-style guitar solos).
The quintet’s latest release, “Circuital,” makes a concerted effort to capture its live feel — loose but never sloppy, intimate but epic. It’s a fine disc, but it lacks the band’s onstage energy. On a CD, you can’t watch James do his thing. At one moment, he’s bombastic and unhinged, bounding across the stage, shredding on a Flying V like Ted Nugent’s punk rock grandson. The next, he’s introspective and wounded, cooing in his haunting and ageless falsetto.