Could it be that Jim James and My Morning Jacket are becoming a sly soul band? Hold on: make that a psychedelic rock outfit? Or is it orchestral jam pop this time out? And what about all those persistent prog-rock leanings?

The Waterfall is all that and yet it’s not. Well beyond becoming a moving target, MMJ have now solidly framed a house called singular. Here the Louisville band that started out as southern indie rockers, have gone all left coast sweeping and melodic which is appropriate for an album recorded in the Panoramic House above Stinson Beach in Marin County, an environment James has without irony nor humor called “psychedelic and focused” and “our own little moon.” If the otherworldly point wasn’t clear, the grand, Youngian Harvest vibe shot of the band lolling in the sunshine above the beach that covers the inside of the LP jacket tells you that Waterfall will be filled with music that is cinematic if nothing else.

In its tones and rhythms, Waterfall recalls everything warm and radiant in the 1970s from Teddy Pendergrass on “Only Memories Remain” to Bread throughout (in a good way if that’s possible) and even Yes in the exuberant opener, “Believe (Nobody Knows).” The vast scale of “Believe,” which will undoubtedly become a winged monster hit when played live, makes the point that searching through a plethora of musical currents in service of a constantly shifting musical vision is still the underlying point here. If James can use it, he will. Harry Nilsson is the obvious model for the acoustic ballad “Get The Point,” which features gorgeous and tasteful use of pedal steel guitar. And how many '70s smooth soul and funk records, from Gamble and Huff to later day Holland-Dozier-Holland can be heard in the steady beat and “wooo, wooo, hooo” background vocals of “Compound Fracture”? Background vocals or in many cases massed, nearly choral parts, presented in increasingly complex arrangements—in “Like a River” they play off a string section (or keyboard plug in)—are one of the few givens in all of James’s current songwriting.

What keeps Waterfall, the band’s seventh album and the first in four years, from sinking into a kind of earnest, overly precious, '70s lite rock muck is that James’s many influences are a mist and not a downpour. Having recording engineer Tucker Martine as your chief cohort, collaborator and co-producer has also given MMJ a sonic signature not present in most other indie rock recordings. Layers, many layers, is the operative principal here. Having listened to the MP3 download and the LPs, which of course are infinitely more dynamic and alive, I can say that while one can always wish for more natural sound and less digital smearage and flown in artificiality, this is well recorded enough to make it an enjoyable listen. On a little moon indeed. Step onto the lunar surface or refuse to depart terra firma, MMJ’s call is alluring.