Saturday, 25 January 2014

''Post Tropical'' James Vincent McMorrow - A Review

James Vincent McMorrow's debut album Early In The Morning found itself heavily compared to Bon Iver's debut work when released back in 2011 for its isolated, lone wolf acoustic atmosphere and folk stylings, which can be interpreted as both a compliment and detractor for the newcoming Irishman; while the likening of any album to the work of Justin Vernon is undoubtedly a major endorsement, McMorrow isn't quite as single minded as most would have you believe, with Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley also notable influences on the young songwriter. Big names for sure, but these are not unfounded comparisons- Early marked the arrival of one of the most promising Irish talents of the past decade.

Yet it became apparent before the release of Post Tropical that it was not going to be even a nearly similar project to its predecessor. When asked about the production of his second project, McMorrow stated '' soon as that album was created (Early In The Morning), I would never, ever, ever, ever want to repeat that. I mean, I have no interest in repeating myself anyway. It's always going to be different, and so it should be. I think that's the point. The responsibility of a musician is to make new and interesting things.''

That's an admirable statement indeed, and certainly McMorrow's curious choice of location for recording seemed to back up his professed desire for change- a nowhere studio based on a farm in the middle of the Texan desert. And it seems that McMorrow truly did reshape his artistic approach out there, annihilating the folk persona of his debut, with Post Tropical instead employing a range of synths and electronic instruments in favour of a lone guitar and vocal.

''Cavalier'' opens proceedings impressively with no trace of guitars, establishing the tone of the record with a building, climatic opening that strongly recalls the work of another recent major indie sensation; James Blake. This Blake influence carries itself throughout the rest of Post Tropical in tracks like ''Red Dust'' and ''Glacier'', as vocal overdubs combined with emotive piano pieces recall the Londoner in vivid fashion. Elsewhere there is a prevailing hip-hop inspired undercurrent of dub beats on ''All Points'' and the title track which are totally unexpected of McMorrow but work so well for him too. The real highlights of the album however, come in moments like ''Gold'', ''Look Out'' and ''Post Tropical'' with their building beauty and glorious, uplifting essence, while the aptly titled ''Repeating'' is the only remaining clue as to McMorrow's previous identity with it's delicately plucked guitar, but while this acoustic wonder may recall Early, it also falls in effortlessly alongside this collection of dreamy material, which comes to a close with the gentle comedown piece ''Outside, Digging''.

Ultimately, these ten tracks are filled with the a kind of vivid brilliance that goes deeper than the Irishman's debut work and resonates longer in the listener. Post Tropical delivers, without a single pause, a series of all consuming sentimental masterpieces that will leave you breathless, whether it be for their beauty or the stunning transition of McMorrow and the skill he has demonstrated with it.

On Post Tropical, James Vincent McMorrow has proven himself a versatile performer, a greater songwriter than previously credited and a musician of immense promise. The comparisons that accompanied his arrival will now start to fade away due to the fact that McMorrow has crafted an album of near equal brilliance to each of his predeccessors and influences. In early January, McMorrow has delivered an early contender for one of the records of the year before we've even really begun to scratch the surface of 2014, but most importantly, a sophomore production that showcases a rapid development and immense promise for the future.


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