Post Tropical by James Vincent McMorrow
Young Irish singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow burst onto the musical landscape in 2010 with his stunning debut album Early in the Morning, an effort entirely performed and self-recorded over a five-month period while exiled in a cottage on the coast of Ireland. Sound familiar? There are definite shades of the wondrous Bon Iver here but the comparison belies the depth of singular talent on display. Such was the acclaim McMorrow received upon the release of his first album that an appearance on Later … With Jools Holland followed and international stardom soon beckoned.
For his much-anticipated second album, Post Tropical, McMorrow decamped to a pecan farm (nuts!) on the Mexican border and once again prodigiously chose to write, produce and play virtually every instrument himself. Drawing inspiration from the hundreds of sound files he brought back from international touring and a youthful love of hip-hop, McMorrow has vastly broadened his horizons and introduced some gorgeous new textures to his musical palette.
The opening track, the aptly named ‘Cavalier’, sets the tone, a piece that begins from the starkest of sources to a towering crescendo of brass, drums and that falsetto. Elsewhere, on ‘The Lakes’, 12 mandolins are layered to mesmerising effect before the introduction of a looped beat steers the tune into unchartered waters. Another highlight is unleashed in ‘Red Dust’ – a song that lingers long after its end – in which McMorrow proves that perhaps the only thing better than listening to his glorious swoon of a voice is the sound of him harmonising with himself.
Reminiscent of that other fantastic release in 2013 from the sinfully talented James Blake, Post Tropical puts McMorrow firmly on the map of exciting, forward-thinking young songwriters. As McMorrow has said: ‘I just wanted to make the most beautiful thing that I could imagine. And that was it.’ Job done.
Declan Murphy is the music buyer at Readings St Kilda