James Vincent McMorrow’s “Early in the Morning” by SwagDaddy Mar22


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James Vincent McMorrow’s “Early in the Morning” by SwagDaddy

James Vincent McMorrow is an Irish folk singer, probably best known for his song Higher Love that featured on the LoveFilm advertisement in 2011. His debut album Early in the Morning was released in 2010 and reached 23 in the Irish charts.

Early in the Morning is, to say the least, a fantastic album. It is deeply rooted in folk music with its use of loudly plucked acoustic guitars, banjos and a sprinkling of piano to round out the warm, rural album. It is immediately very easy to understand the comparisons to Bon Iver’s Bon Iver from 2011, in their sound and in both having recorded their albums themselves during voluntary seclusion.

Regarding the lyrics, McMorrow is a natural storyteller although he dabbles in abstraction in several songs. His clear love of earth is comparable to that of Wordsworth; there’s a poetic quality to many songs on the album. On occasion, his songs slip in to the territory of ballads evoking epic, sweeping tales of nature and its beauty.

McMorrow has a voice that is far removed from his aesthetics. The pock-marked bearded Irishman sounds like the love-child of Michael Kiwanuka and the aforementioned Bon Iver. His music has a quality that encourages listening without hearing the lyrics, despite their profundity. It has a raw, emotional tone to it that could bring a Gurkha to tears. The crooning singer wouldn’t be out of place in the American Midwest and his falsetto voice adds a magical feel to the album.

For what it lacks in originality, Higher Love is one of the stand-out tracks on the album as it represents one of the more stirring performances as McMorrow wails through the track, bringing his own twist to Steve Winwood’s (1986) single. We Don’t Eat is one of the more thematic songs on the album, as he sings about family and relationships. The lyrics exemplify McMorrow’s storytelling, with lines like “two thousand years I’ve been in that water…desperately reaching for nets” weaving a story of perseverance and hope. Musically it is one of his more uplifting songs that starts off slow to build up and come down in a crescendo of piano and guitars seamlessly blended together.

There are several bumps in the road of this otherwise brilliant album, but they do not detract too much from its high quality of. This album should be in the collections of any serious folk/bluegrass fan and should by rights propel McMorrow to the same heights as Bon Iver or Band of Horses.