James Vincent McMorrow: Post Tropical
James Vincent McMorrow
R&B / Soul
Moving from obscurity four years ago to selling out three shows at the National Concert Hall next month isn’t what you’d call overnight success. Rather, it’s an assured and incremental rise , one that has allowed Irish singer-songwriter McMorrow to put the songs of his 2010 debut, Early in the Morning, fully behind him.
Indeed, Post Tropical sounds like the work of someone else entirely. The soulful, delicately sorrowful folk/pop of McMorrow’s debut has been replaced by a woven, multilayered sound that reflects his love of r’n’b and pop without blinding you with it.
If there’s a signature feeling on Post Tropical, it’s a sense that McMorrow has eased himself into making music that fits him like a microphone sheath. If there’s a signature sound on the album, it’s the subtle – and, at times, emphatic – flourishes of classic 1960s soul that imbue the songs with a warm glow of familiarity. And if there’s a signature instrument, it’s McMorrow’s falsetto voice, which is used to such good effect that you’re sometimes left almost as breathless as the singer.
A perfect example of this is towards the end of Red Dust. McMorrow, his voice as sweet and sensual as a Georgia peach, sings, “sometimes my hands, they don’t feel like my own, I need someone to love, I need someone to hug,” taking flight on the last word with a sustained, sublime vocal cadence that has to be heard to be believed.
There’s much more of such style. The album’s first single, Cavalier, may reminisce about previous emotional entanglements, but its satin-stitched structures of pause-for-effect soul/r’n’b are as contemporary as they come. Ditto the final track, Outside Digging, which, borne aloft by funereal keyboards, offers what might be construed as a foreboding lyric (“there is so little light from the warmth of the sun”), but one which, ultimately, is delivered by McMorrow as a form of hymn.
An Album of the Year so early into 2014? You’d best believe it. jamesvmcmorrow.com
Download: Cavalier, Red Dust, Post Tropical, Outside Digging