My Morning Jacket is currently taking a break in 2018, but frontman Jim James is clearly staying busy with his own agenda. Following the release of Tribute To 2 in December of 2017–in which he played tribute to The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and more–Jim James announced today that he will release a new solo album of original tunes. Uniform Distortion will release on June 28 via ATO Records.

Uniform Distortion–which got its name “because [Jim James] feels like there is this blanket distortion on society/media and the way we gather our ‘news’ and important information”–contains 11 tracks penned by Jim James and features Floating Action bassist Seth Kauffman and drummer Dave Givan, along with LA trio Dear Lemon Trees‘ Kathleen Grace, Jamie Drake, and Leslie Stevens on backing vocals. Today, the first single is released, “Just A Fool”, via NPR. Listen to the new track below:

[Video: jimjamesVEVO]

According to NPR, “the philosophy and thought that went into making this record was inspired by Jim James’ utter fascination with The Last Whole Earth Catalog,” a publication that served as a bible for the hippie generation bent on a mission to make the planet a better place in the 1960s. The catalog, described by NPR as “the Internet for ecology in magazine form,” included an image that inspired Jim James’ imagination. Entitled the “Illuminated Man” by Duane Michals, the photograph depicted a man with an illuminated head from the shoulders up (pictured above). James reached out to the artist seeking permission to use the image for the album but was turned down. So, James wrote the following letter to Michals, eventually allowing him to use the photo for Uniform Distortion.

hello duane- your piece “the illuminated man” was used in “the last whole earth catalogue” in 1971. i wasnt even born yet. i was born in 1978…but i found my copy of “the last whole earth catalogue” about 6 months ago in a thrift store and it blew my mind. i have been feeling increasingly overwhelmed by the speed of technology and its place in our lives and here was this beautiful book/catalogue from the past showing me all these beautiful things and amazing images to help one learn different ways to look at the world… or “get off the grid?” funny they had no idea back then just how crazy “the grid” would get. or did they?

so i am trying to put down my phone… use the computer and social media less… and just focus on real life and the people i love and my art. of course i am not fully “off the grid” because i am sending you this email in hopes of you changing your mind about letting me use your image as it appeared in “the last whole earth catalogue” in 1971 because when i saw it on the page there it spoke to me so deeply of how my head feels like it is exploding with the amount of information we are forced to consume on a daily basis and how that information is so DISTORTED there is almost no longer any tangible truth. the name of my new record is “UNIFORM DISTORTION” because i feel like there is this blanket distortion on society/media and the way we gather our “news” and important information…and more and more of us are feeling lost and looking for new ways out of this distortion and back to the truth…and finding hope in places like the desert where i write this email to you now…finding hope in the land and in the water and in old books offering new ideas and most importantly in each other and love.

i feel like there was a reason i found “the last whole earth catalogue” and there was a reason your art spoke to me… and i really think it would speak to others who would see it exploding out at them illuminating from the record store shelf or the glow of their phone or computer screen and feel its organic mind blowing distortion connect with this new music.

i also like the natural “distortion” that time and the pulp of the paper meeting the ink from “the last whole earth catalogue” add to your original image and that is why i am asking your permission to use this “distorted” version of your original beautiful image.

i hope you are well and thanks for listening-

jim james

[via NPR]