Friday, February 4, 2011
Perhaps the most promising new artist I've heard thus far in 2011, Ireland's James Vincent McMorrow is quickly rising through the ranks, likely to become one of the more buzzed about new acts at SXSW this March. McMorrow recently released Early in the Morning on Vagrant Records, an 11-song LP. Well, the U.S. release was only in January 2011, while the U.K. release stretches back to March 2010. As such, he only recently came onto my radar. However, a number of listens and plenty of having his songs stuck in my head later, I'm pretty sure it's going to continue to build into one of the better albums of the year with continued time.
As my good friend noted, the album exhibits shades of Bon Iver in a number of ways, as has been detailed by a number of other blogs, yet I don't find it overly influenced by the group. I hear similarities to Fleet Foxes as well in the album's vocal harmonies, but yet again, I don't think the influence is overkill. While possibly classified in the recorded-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods-core genre (although in McMorrow's case, it was the beach, not the woods), the album's strength lies more in the solid songwriting than in any similarities to currently popular artists. That is, I don't want to overdo the comparisons, as I think this album stands on its own as a fantastic work that deserves a listen without being overly concerned about who it sounds like.
The album begins with maybe its strongest track, "If I Had a Boat," a slow builder that should reach out and grab many first time listeners. Songs that follow, including "Sparrow and the Wolf" and "Breaking Hearts," provide a quick indication of the consistency of the album throughout. Early in the Morning most importantly has the feel of a record made by an artist in just the way he wanted it made, and I think this element is among its greatest strengths. This is the album that many aspiring artists envision they could make if they just had the right setting and enough time. While in reality such lofty aspirations are much easier said than done, in McMorrow's case, he has found the perfect elements to bring that much-desired artistic ambition to fruition. See him at SXSW next month if you want to hear him before all the cool kids catch on.
James Vincent McMorrow - If I Had A Boat
Download the full album from James Vincent McMorrow on iTunes here.