McMorrow moves into new territory to great effect

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, September 14th, 2016 at 10:02 PM
McMorrow moves into new territory to great effect  by Roman Sabella

Earlier this month, the world was introduced to the third album by Irish native James Vincent McMorrow. The album, titled “We Move,” shows a distinct evolution — or move, if you will — from his Indie folk roots to a far more R&B feel, akin to singers like Sam Smith and some of the newer material being produced by Bon Iver. The differences are glaring, especially when looked at in comparison to his first album “Early in
the Morning,” an album full of down-tempo acoustic tracks drenched in metaphorical lyricisms.

The album plays out like most R&B records, with slow jams and pop gems littering the battlefield of lovers lost, self- conflict and a want for more in life. The striking difference is in McMorrow’s style of singing. At some points he’s belting out hooks that make you want to get up and dance, while at other times his vocals seem strained and a sense of personal quarrel comes through as he holds some syllables long enough that they falter and you seem to get a true sense of his character.

He’s not just another singer with a good voice, who croons meaningless nothings to entertain a crowd. The lyrics open a portal to his very soul and are cathartic in nature.

It’s been quite a time since I’ve gotten chills from an album, but McMorrow has managed to elicit this physical response to great effect. The perfection of transitioning from one song to another makes for a cohesive experience, which is something not every artist is capable of, but when it’s executed correctly, it really shows.

The swirling synths that bounce back and forth with the percussion seem to have a conversational aspect, very present in the track “I Lie Awake Every Night,” a self-reflection on McMorrow’s past with an eating disorder.

Much of the fantastic production in the record can be attributed to the addition of Toronto native and producer Ninteen85, known for his works on songs such as “Hotline Bling” and “One Dance” off of Drake’s “Views.”

Not every song is a fantastic addition to the world of R&B, though. Some songs flow perfectly, with driving bass lines and harmonies sounding nearly heaven sent, but one in particular put a sour taste in my mouth. The ninth track, “Surreal,” although by no means an awful song, sounds very similar to a rehashed ‘90s R&B ballad à la R. Kelly, which is not necessarily a good thing. Seeing as it is only one of 10 tracks, its permissible.

The album as a whole is definitely an admirable beginning to a journey for the Irish singer, as he ventures into previously uncharted territory for his music. His combination of ‘60s soul, hip-hop beats, and modern alternative R&B shows a complete album that fits the genre, but is still James Vincent McMorrow as only he can be.

“We Move” is available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon. McMorrow will be on tour for the album in Europe and the U.S. this fall. The first U.S. date is Nov. 7 in New York City at Webster Hall.

Standout Tracks: “Rising Water,” “I Lie Awake Every Night” & “Seek Another” 

Roman Sabella is a contributing writer for The Spectator. 

Tags: review, music

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