James Vincent McMorrow
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James Vincent McMorrow

Dublin, Leinster, Ireland | INDIE

Dublin, Leinster, Ireland | INDIE
Band Folk Acoustic


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"Ivers Down the Spine"

Singer- Songwriters who fancy their chances at breaking new ground certainly have a job on their hands. According to the laws of mathematics, there is a finite amount of good songs that have yet to written; a small, preset number of chord combinations that will make an affecting and lasting tune. As for the idea of writing an entire album of them? Well, good luck with that. How delightful t, then, to find that the latest artist to master this feat can be found in our very own back yard. Usassuming, woodsy and gentle, James Vincent McMorrow is -on paper at least- the latest in an unending batch of pastoral folky types. His debut album, hoever, is a quiet and lovely revelation. First things first: we need to address the sizeable, Bon Iver - shaped elephant in the room. The similarities between these artists are inescapable, yet it would be entirely remiss to describe mcmorrow as merely a Bon Iver clone. But like BI's Justin Vernon before him, McMorrow retreated to an isolated house to record and produce his opus. And just as For Emma, forever Ago is a product of its rural Wisconsin birthplace, the creaks, sea air and dust of McMorrow's hidenaway can also be heard every delicious note. By the sea McMorrow had retreated to the delightful forest of his mind, and amid his debut albums gentle frame, you'll find plenty of fire, energy and promise.
Evoking subtle shades of Fleet Foxes, the Acorn and Jeff Buckley, Early in the Morning is an impressive one-man affair. It was recorded with what McMorrow describes as "one mic, a room full of beat-up instruments, very little engineering knowledge and a good amount of patience." Truth be told, the payoff is a spectacular. TV viewers may already be familiar with the track "Follow You Down" thanks to a certain Barnardos as, but the album yields many other beauties. "We Don't Eat" is bracing and softly evocative, while McMorrow's gossamer vocals lend 'Breaking Hearts' much fragility and soul. The ominous eerie 'If I had a boat' and the layer title track bookend the collection perfectly. It may be a touch premature to bestow McMorrow with an an album-of-the-year plaudit, but there's no shying away from the fact that Early In The Morning is one of the truly great albums of the decade. - The Dubliner Magazine - 5 STAR REVIEW


Album - Early In The Morning (2010)

1. If I Had a Boat
2. Hear the Noise That Moves So Soft and Low
3. Sparrow and the Wolf
4. Breaking Hearts
5. We Don’t Eat
6. This Old Dark Machine
7. Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree
8. Down the Burning Ropes
9. From the Woods!!
10. And If My Heart Should Somehow Stop
11. Early In the Morning, I’ll Come Calling

The Sparrow And The Wolf EP (2008)

1. Down The Burning Ropes
2. There Is A Place
3. Jacob
4. We Don’t Eat



Extracts from a conversation

James Vincent Mc Morrow released his debut record, Early in the Morning, in Ireland to widespread critical acclaim in February 2010.

A stunning collection of songs recorded over 5 months in an isolated house by the sea, the album is a completely self recorded and played affair, 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.

“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. I don’t sit down with an agenda when I write, I usually have a first line, and a vague sense in my head of where I’m going, but no real solid structure. Music tends to reveal itself to me over the course of weeks and months. It’s probably quite like sculpting, you have a chisel, you know what’s waiting for you inside the stone, all that’s left is to chip away the pieces and reveal it.”

From the very first lines of the album, that singularity is there for all to hear. A 5 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 2 years that preceded this record being made involved some of the greatest change I’d ever experienced, physical, emotional, and spiritual. When I write lyrics they come together in a pretty uncoordinated way, lines get written, slowly link up until a story reveals itself. It was only when I was finished that I looked back and saw the words for what they were, realized what they meant.”

Over the course of the 10 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, or as James puts it, “the closest I’ll ever get to proper mythical fantasy writing!” 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. Drawing on his childhood love of Roald Dahl, as well as his fascination with American novelists such as John Steinbeck and F Scott Fitzgerald, 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 for sure”

And then the album draws to a close just as it started, bucolic 5 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.

Currently playing live for James is a hushed and reverential affair, each show met with pin drop silence as people follow every word, every syllable. It will not always be this way though, as James dreams of a much grander affair in the near future. “I do want the music to be played how it is on the record, I dream in vivid Technicolor when it comes to my songs, not just black and white. I hear it with drums and horns and accordions and banjos and anything else that can be hit or strummed! Playing on my own right now is beautiful because it allows me to connect on a very primitive level, but I’d like to be in a place soon where I can be surrounded with friends on stage to share this with me”.

Whatever that near future might h