Claire Beavers gives us the low down on the Irishman’s sophomore album…
With his second album we wave goodbye to the simple guitar and natural landscapes of the James Vincent McMorrow of old, and are instead greeted by a much darker and accomplished songwriter. Supplemented by a music video trilogy depicting scenes of strip clubs, drugs and violence, the acoustic folk of Early in the Morning is swapped for the emotional alternative R&B of Post Tropical. Like the love child of Bon Iver and James Blake, McMorrow’s second album hypnotises as his falsetto dazzles over rich compositions of horns, bass and hip-hop beats.
Despite joining the wave of artists experimenting in this new-age soulful R&B genre, with comparisons to Justin Vernon’s transition from first to second album being inevitable; lyrically McMorrow’s roots in folk remain as he evokes landscapes of “the glacier slow/ in the heart of the winter”. But what truly makes McMorrow stand out from the crowd is his extraordinary vocal talents. A haunting quality pervades McMorrow’s voice as it rises to new heights in ‘Cavalier’ earnestly repeating “I remember my first love”, whilst the luxurious refrain in ‘Red Dust’ “Sometimes my hands/ they don’t feel like my own/I need someone to love/ I need someone to hold” echoes on long after the song finishes. Equally exceptional is the range of musical arrangements in Post Tropical which display McMorrow’s hidden depths as songwriter and composer. A crescendo of horns bring a rousing conclusion to ‘Gold’, continuous handclaps and intense piano drive ‘Glacier’, whilst interludes of chimes throughout provide an overall dreamlike and fluid quality to the album.
The album as a whole is exquisitely textured, emotional and beautifully carried by McMorrow’s voice, highlighting his individual maturity and creativity. Post Tropical therefore marks an exciting new direction for the singer songwriter.
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