There’s something about Ireland that breeds singer-songwriters, like Damien Rice, Villagers and Hozier. Enter James Vincent McMorrow. Having only picked up a guitar at the age of 19, the late boomer quickly tried to master other instruments in order to create richer layers of composition. Like a Celtic Bon Iver, he trapped himself in a house on an Irish coast to produce his 2010 debut, Early in the Morning (stream it below). McMorrow didn’t return with the follow-up, Post Tropical (stream it below), which shined more on his R&B and soul influences rather than folk music, for nearly four years. But he’s been downright prolific ever since. In fact McMorrow’s fourth full-length—and third in four years—True Care (stream it below), suddenly arrived just a few weeks ago. The Irish Times says, “McMorrow presents 15 new tunes that further consolidate his position as a songwriter of meaningful, depth-charged soul music.” While the Irish Examiner calls the album “a sublime, abstracted gift that keeps on giving.” And having just kicked off a North American tour in support of the new LP, McMorrow (above, performing “Get Low,” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and, below, covering “Purple Rain”) returns to NYC to play Brooklyn Steel on Thursday night. —Sharlene Chiu
Tag Archives: James Vincent McMorrow
James Vincent McMorrow – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 11, 2014
There is something about Ireland that breeds singer-songwriters, like Damien Rice, Villagers and the recent buzz-worthy Hozier. Enter James Vincent McMorrow. Having only picked up a guitar at the age of 19, the late boomer quickly tried to master other instruments in order to create richer layers of composition. Like a Celtic Bon Iver, McMorrow trapped himself in a house on an Irish coast to produce his 2010 debut, Early in the Morning. He recently returned to the limelight with his follow-up, Post Tropical, which dropped earlier this year. Although he’s categorized as a folk singer, McMorrow’s sophomore effort definitely shines more on the R&B and soul influences in his music.
On Friday, playing the second of two sold-out New York City shows (the first at The Bowery Ballroom on Wednesday), the Irishman descended onstage at Music Hall of Williamsburg to riotous cheers that never really let up all night. Between “Hear the Noise That Moves So Soft and Low” and “Glacier,” the crowd chatter came to a fever pitch before hushing sounds echoed throughout the venue for McMorrow’s distinct high-pitched falsetto to ring clear. Conversation ebbed and flowed between songs, which continued with the singer-songwriter appropriately bathed in red lights for “Red Dust.” He didn’t address fans until halfway into his set, expressing his thankfulness to close out his amazing American tour in Brooklyn.
The fans couldn’t hold in their appreciation, shouting out, ”Sing it” and “Come on, Ireland” during songs. Concertgoers clapped along to “We Don’t Eat” and joined in to sing the chorus, “That we don’t eat until your father’s at the table/ We don’t drink until the devil’s turned to dust.” At times the outbursts interfered with the performance, like when McMorrow performed the D’Angelo-inspired “Cavalier.” It could have been a special moment when silence would have elevated the song, but the spell was broken time and again. Nevertheless, McMorrow performed a rare solo cover of Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love.” And following a brief exit, he returned for a two-song encore: “And If My Heart Should Somehow Stop” and “If I Had a Boat.” —Sharlene Chiu
Tags: Bon Iver, Bowery Ballroom, Damien Rice, Early in the Morning, Hozier, James Vincent McMorrow, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Photos, Post Tropical, Review, Villagers
Posted in House List, Photos and Review No Comments »
The talented James Vincent McMorrow arrives in New York City this week for two sold-out shows, on Wednesday at The Bowery Ballroom and on Friday at Music Hall of Williamsburg. But if you don’t already have tickets, you still might be in luck because The House List is giving away two to Friday’s show. Want to go? Try to Grow a Pair of tickets. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (James Vincent McMorrow, 4/10) and a brief message explaining what you like so much about the Irish singer-songwriter. Eddie Bruiser, who’s been listening to Post Tropical, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.
James Vincent McMorrow – The Bowery Ballroom – September 9, 2011
The mood of a live-music show is almost always encapsulated in the relationship between the performers and the audience. Friday night at The Bowery Ballroom, three different musicians took three different approaches to their interactions with an increasingly noisy weekend crowd. First Brooklyn’s Christopher Paul Stelling performed with just an acoustic guitar and his voice, but with the energy of a fully functioning rock band, he took the overpower-them-with-force angle while making plenty of friends with his between-song banter. He won over much of the crowd with infectious deep-folk music and dexterous guitar playing. At one point, Stelling even stepped away from the microphone, as if friendly taunting the chit-chatters in the back. Even unamplified, he barely lost a thing and the applause was hooked and returned the favor.
While also performing with just a guitar and her voice, Marissa Nadler contrasted with Stelling. Her energy was a haunting hypnotism with echoing vocals and gently fingered strings. Nadler professed her shyness between songs, almost getting completely swallowed by the din. She opened with “Conjuring Spirit Worlds,” and her set was an intense, seemingly impenetrable array of poetic lyrics and alternate-universe folk melodies. For one number, a 12-string guitar proved to be completely otherworldly, spiraling into a wonderfully spooky and atonal space. The first few rows of the audience held strong in her sway, but like some inverse-square law, the farther you got from her, the easier it was to lapse into conversation, so that back by the bar felt like a completely different room altogether. Nadler didn’t have the wherewithal to fight it or sing over it like Stelling did, so she just finished her set early and walked away.
Headliner James Vincent McMorrow brought a full band over from Ireland, but took a third strategy with the audience. His songs and demeanor were that of a soft whisper that served to draw in the ears of the crowd to listen, lest they miss a word or note. Like a combination of his countrymen Van Morrison and Damien Rice, McMorrow opened with “The Sparrow and the Wolf”—four-part harmonies and an undeniable sweetness. A banjo was passed around, most powerfully for “Down the Burning Ropes,” and the more stripped down the band became, the sharper the performance was until finally McMorrow was left alone for a couple of songs, including a strong version of “We Are Ghosts.” Of course, no great set is complete without a cover song, and McMorrow obliged with his take on Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love,” which he introduced almost apologetically, before concluding, “Winwood is a fucking genius.” No need to be sorry, it was a strong solo version and certainly had the audience’s well-earned attention. —A. Stein