The Order of Nature

Inside the latest collaboration from Teddy Abrams & The Louisville Orchestra

By Mariah Kline
Album art courtesy of
Decca Gold/Universal Music Group

On Oct. 18, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and Teddy Abrams & the Louisville Orchestra released their collaborative album, “The Order of Nature.” The album is made up of songs written by James with symphonic suites composed by Abrams.

“The Order of Nature” was recorded last year at the 2018 Festival of American Music, where the collection was first performed, and the second night’s performance is what is heard on the album. Within each track, Abrams worked to create what he calls a “musical atmosphere.” Rather than the orchestra serving as a backup to the rock star, each note becomes part of a larger world.

“It gives it a lot of depth, so instead of just listening to a song that’s flat in front of you, you feel like you’re actually in this world,” Abrams says. “Jim created the melodies and the basic framework for the songs and, of course, the lyrics, so my job was to really delve into that and draw out the material that he had already created.”

Using the natural world as inspiration has long been an element of James’ work, and Abrams says the rocker strikes a good balance – addressing a significant issue without inciting division.

“He brings this almost older world prophetic vision to his music,” Abrams says. “He wants to talk about important subjects in a way that everybody can feel like they’re a part of. … He doesn’t do it in a way that preaches; he does it in a way that invites you to be a part of the music.”

“The core idea to me is trying to reflect on the fact that nature doesn’t know how to hate,” James said in a press release. “Humans are part of nature, obviously, but why do we have this thing called hatred and how do we get rid of it? We’re fighting nature and thinking we can prevail over nature, but we’re killing each other and killing the planet.”

Following the album’s release, James, Abrams and the Orchestra traveled to New York for a sold-out record launch party and a performance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” In the coming months, they also have scheduled performances in Seattle, Washington, and Denver, Colorado. By showcasing this project throughout the country, Abrams hopes to share the talents and magnetism of Louisville with more and more people. 

“We’re trying to tell the world that Louisville is a great cultural capital with truly creative work,” he says. “It should make the town a leader and a flagship city for American art and culture, but to do that you have to tell your story. … All of this work that we’re doing in New York is to support that vision so that we can tell Louisville’s story and show what it means to be a musician in Louisville right now.” V

“The Order of Nature” is available now to stream and purchase. To learn more, visit louisvilleorchestra.org or call 502.587.8681.