CD Review: James Vincent McMorrow’s Whisper-Folk Irish Songs
James Vincent McMorrow. Early in the Morning.
2011. Vagrant Records.
Whisper-folk singer James Vincent McMorrow has produced not only one of the sweetest albums of 2011, but also one of the more intriguing. The Dublin-born songwriter holed up in a beach house on the Irish coast for five months to create this album, in which he writes all the songs, plays all the instruments and sings all the harmonies. If you didn’t know all that, you’d swear he had a full band touring with him and recording on the album. He plays everything from banjo to drums, slide guitar to electric guitar, and multi-tracks glorious harmonies with himself.
McMorrow has drawn comparisons to Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver from various music critics, and while these may be accurate, I’d say that he sounds most like The Be Good Tanyas. This pioneering indie-folk band out of Vancouver, BC, started the muffled-folk sound that McMorrow taps into. Like Be Good Tanyas’ lead singer Frazey Ford (who debuted her solo album last year), McMorrow’s voice is so soft and muffly that you can only catch every other word of the lyrics. But then at times, the poppier, full-band sound of the album almost reminds me of Coldplay, in their early days of light-filled, soaring pop.
McMorrow’s music is like the Irish wool sweater of indie-folk. Warm and cozy, a little bit scratchy at times, and a throwback to an earlier time, McMorrow channels the isolation of the Irish Sea into a well-worn debut album that deserves the hype.
James Vincent McMorrow: If I Had A Boat