James Vincent McMorrow: Early in the Morning


James Vincent McMorrow
Early in the Morning,

(Vagrant Records)

Buy it at Amazon!

I don’t know if it’s the sea or the weather, but Ireland produces some of the world’s greatest singer/songwriters. Joining the ranks is James Vincent McMorrow, whose debut album is the perfect combination of acoustic introspection and haunting instrumentation. The way McMorrow’s songs are crafted, they can easily be whittled down to their cores for a one-man show, or they can be fleshed out with female backing vocals, building drums, and other elements that fill a room with a haunting minimalism. The landscape of Early in the Morning is like a wind-whipped shore, interspersed with bleak images that still offer hope as stripped trees do.

Fans of acts like Bon Iver and Damien Rice will be able to easily identify with McMorrow’s style, quiet but always with something more going on beneath the surface. Stripped-down is hardly the same as simple though, and these elegant songs are eleven testaments to that craft.

Opening track, “If I Had a Boat,” begins with only McMorrow’s voice, sweeping from an effortless falsetto to a smoky whisper. His voice creates the entrance to his world and the stories he decides to share with the listener, admitting his faults and sharing twists worthy of humanist writers. If you want a sample of this album, start with “From the Woods!!” McMorrow’s delicate plucking and isolated voice builds to a plaintive cry with ghostly backing vocals. This musician is already making waves in his native Ireland, and if there’s any justice, he’ll find an audience across the Atlantic.

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