Song Sung Blue

My Morning Jacket's At Dawn sounds like a country of sadness

Which raises the issue that too many Southern "working-class country bands" talk down the influence of other musical genres lest the group's "legitimacy" be diluted by its middle-class appeal. Depression isn't necessarily any less serious if it afflicts an alcoholic middle-class office drone than if it strikes a minimum-wage worker trading on the sweat of his brow. If we learned nothing else from Pearl Jam and "Jeremy," we gathered that when indie rockers forget to take their Wellbutrin, they can be just as menacingly sad as country-singer wallowers.

James, above all, should know all of this: Before releasing albums with MMJ, he worked not in a black-lung-ridden coal mine, but delivering sandwiches to yuppies in Louisville. And after At Dawn reaches the Netherlands, he will probably be walking around in golden clogs commissioned by music mogul Flugen Flogen--though this may not make him any happier.

In other words, it makes no difference whether you're the kind who likes her Johnny Cash straight with no chaser or the kind who also sheds tears during emo concerts and long-distance-service commercials. Either way, you'll probably find that At Dawn is one of the most weepy alt-country albums in recent times. Whatever you do, just don't call it "no depression."

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