Album Review: James Vincent McMorrow - Early In The Morning

22 May 2012 | 6:35 pm | Lynn McDonnell

The listener loses their passive role in this narrative album and becomes a part of a journey from the opening track...

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It would be very easy to compare the voice of James Vincent McMorrow to other widely credited singer/songwriters or to draw parallels with the album's lyrics and melodies to others. To do so however would be to diminish the autonomy with which this album should be credited. Early In The Morning is an accomplishment for McMorrow, who single-handedly wrote, played and recorded each song over a five-month period in a secluded house by the sea in his native Ireland.

The only exception to McMorrow's monopoly of creativity is a cover of Steve Winwood's Higher Love. His breathless soulful voice not only does justice to this '80s hit but also turns it into an almost ethereal hum that will haunt your mind for weeks.

The simplistic foundation of the record is not reflective of his inexperience but more a glimpse of a gifted musician at work who knows exactly how to captivate his audience. The album moves through a variety of bright and dark emotions that are accentuated by lyrics such as those in From The Woods: “Stillness has brought my love to cost/I taste the sulphur on my breath”. Interesting parallels are regularly drawn between inanimate objects and a process of self-discovery: “This old dark machine, it shakes and it shudders/Pulls to the left, then dies near the gutter”. The listener loses their passive role in this narrative album and becomes a part of a journey from the opening track, If I Had A Boat, to Early In The Morning I'll Come Calling.

The whole process by which this album came to exist furnishes this debut with a level of integrity that is rare in modern-day folk.

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