James Vincent McMorrow
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More InformationJames Vincent McMorrow released his debut record, “Early In The Morning”, in Ireland to widespread critical acclaim. A stunning collection of songs recorded over five months in an isolated house by the sea, the album is a completely self recorded and played affair. It’s filled with beguiling and vivid stories, fables that move from a whisper in your ear to a mountainous crescendo in the space of a song, all the while retaining the environment and sentiment in which they were formed.
James Vincent McMorrow’s musical life began far removed from the haunting folk and mythic imagery of his debut output. Rather, his early love was hardcore rock, and he spent his teens learning to play drums to the likes of Refused, At The Drive In and Glassjaw. James’ tastes soon broadened to envelop the likes of Crosby, Stills and Nash, and though he remembers an Irish upbringing where late-night singalongs were the norm, it wasn’t until he heard Donny Hathaway’s ‘I Love You More Than You Will Ever Know’ that he even considered singing.
McMorrow then set about understanding how to write and record his own songs. Fascinated by the hip-hop production of acts such as The Neptunes and Timbaland, James spent three years experimenting with sounds and learning how to make music. Only then did he take this newfound knowledge into an isolated house by the Irish Sea, intent on making a record.
“This record was borne out of my desire to create something singular, take the simplest of chords, wrap them in washes of melody, so lines come in, they drop out, everything ebbs and flows as the songs move towards their inevitable end.”
From the very first lines of the album, that singularity is there for all to hear. A five-part harmony cascades in, followed by a growling organ and slide guitar line of the eeriest and spectral kind. ‘If I Had a Boat’ is not only a most fitting opener, but also a song that perfectly encapsulates the dense lyricism and compelling melody of the 40 minutes that are to follow. Its words intense but never over wrought, a vocal line that pulls you along towards a truly epic ending, an arrangement of swirling lines and inventive thought, it is a song to truly build upon for sure.
“I always knew when I wrote this song that it would open the album” acknowledges James, “the lyric is very much about transition, about change. That is definitely the underlying theme that ties it all together. The last two years that preceded this record being made involved some of the greatest change I’d ever experienced, physical, emotional, and spiritual.”
Over the course of the ten songs that follow, “Early In The Morning” captivates completely. From the simple beauty of ‘Hear The Noise That Moves So Soft And Low’, the pastoral thump of ‘Sparrow And The Wolf’, and the haunting grace of ‘Follow You Down To The Red Oak Tree’, the change and movement that James speaks of in the lyrical themes is perfectly reflected in the structure and pacing of the record itself. There is a deliberate sense to the tracklisting. When the lone kick and dual pianos of ‘We Dont Eat’ give way to the 1960’s west coast folk of ‘This Old Dark Machine’, its exactly the way James intends it to be.
Towards the latter half of the record a darker tone emerges. These songs are where we find him at his most literate and ornate, creating ominous figures, and a wholly tangible sense of tension and foreboding. Whilst comparisons will inevitably be drawn with Bon Iver and his cabin, it is the inspiration rooted in the likes of John Steinbeck, F Scott Fitzgerald or Roald Dahl that drove James’ writing. Drawing on his childhood love and fascination of these authors, James draws life from their writings because “they all examine the darker less spoken about aspects of life, solitude, disillusionment. I’m not one for defining a lyric, or what it definitively means, but songs like ‘Follow You Down To The Red Oak Tree’, ‘From The Woods’, and ‘Down The Burning Ropes’ are certainly me exorcising the underside of my personality. The characters I create in those songs, the ones existing in the shadows, they are all elements of me.”
And then the album draws to a close just as it started, bucolic five-part harmony. The title track of the record, which James describes as a “simple ode to the love that I have”, is backed by a banjo and a piano, a folk round that fades out as quietly as it arrives, the squeak of the piano stool a final reminder of the homespun nature of what has just occurred.
“Early In the Morning” reached #1 back in Ireland in it’s first weeks and hhas since gone Gold and been nominated for the Choice Music Prize – the Irish Mercury. The beautiful Australian edition of the record sees the bonus cover of Steve Windwood’s ‘Higher Love’. It also includes live takes of the album track ‘We Don’t Eat’ and Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’, together with the gorgeous ‘We Are Ghosts’.
James spend the last two years touring the US and Europe extensively (stopping off at Glastonbury, Latitude and ‘Later...With Jools Holland’ along the way). He will be looking to bring his reverent performance soon to Australia. All of this is about as far away from the house by the Irish Sea as is humanly possible, but the beautiful sounds and songs that came from that place remain the same.
1. If I Had A Boat $1.65 Buy MP3
2. Hear The Noise That Moves So Soft And Low $1.65 Buy MP3
3. Sparrow & The Wolf $1.65 Buy MP3
4. Breaking Hearts $1.65 Buy MP3
5. We Don't Eat $1.65 Buy MP3
6. This Old Dark Machine $1.65 Buy MP3
7. Follow You Down To The Red Oak Tree $1.65 Buy MP3
8. Down The Burning Ropes $1.65 Buy MP3
9. From The Woods $1.65 Buy MP3
10. And If My Heart Should Somehow Stop $1.65 Buy MP3
11. Early In The Morning, I'll Come Calling $1.65 Buy MP3
12. Higher Love $1.65 Buy MP3
13. We Are Ghosts
14. We Don't Eat (Acoustic) $1.65 Buy MP3