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Early In the Morning

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Album Review

Early in the Morning is Irish singer/songwriter James Vincent McMorrow's debut. He cut it himself over five months in a cottage by the sea. It was released to acclaim in Great Britain in March of 2010, and worldwide in January 2011. McMorrow claims his influences as Joni Mitchell, Band of Horses, and Sufjan Stevens, but one need listen no further than "If I Had a Boat" — the set's opener and first single — to clearly hear Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes in the mix as well. McMorrow's brand of folkish pop is chock-full of tight hooks and arrangements, with his high-pitched falsetto amid lush five-part harmonies. "If I Had a Boat" begins sparsely with his multi-tracked vocals singing a cappella with a hint of reverb before an organ, an electric slide guitar line, a snare, and a kick drum announce the rest of his instruments. It's a pleading love song that begins with frail vulnerability before gaining confidence and momentum as it builds to a crescendo as a banjo authoritatively guides his words toward the transcendent. "Sparrow & the Wolf," with its skittering double-timed rhythmic thrust (courtesy of a relentless snare drum) is reminiscent of skiffle, but the echoes of Stevens' quirky song structures anchor it in present-day indie rock. "This Old Dark Machine" has more than a bit of Mitchell's "Woodstock" melody in it. It begins as a moper, but quickly picks up its tempo and becomes dynamic, with layered harmonies and acoustic guitars warmly yet forcefully propelling it. There are some weepers in the mix, too, as evidenced by the spare, haunting, "Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree" and "Breaking Hearts," the latter with a strolling piano, mandolin, guitar, and banjo. McMorrow has a way of taking even these, his darkest, most yearning lyrics, and setting them inside melodies and arrangements that break their barriers with catchy refrains, reaching codas and lush textures. "And If My Heart Should Somehow Stop," with its whinnying steel guitar, waltz-time acoustic guitars, and a key change that signals the arrival of his soulful falsetto, is the second to last track, and it's the most triumphal and memorable tune here next to the single. He should have closed with it. Tighter editing (cutting two songs) would have made this set stronger, but it's a small complaint. Early in the Morning is a very promising debut by a sophisticated yet developing singer/songwriter.

Customer Reviews

A fantastic talent.

Came across this guy singing '' this old dark machine'' on the Craig Doyle show and stright away i downloaded the album and I am glad I did this is just brilliant. These songs are just haunting with if I had a boat being beautifully done.YOU just feel like dancing along to this ''old dark machine''. I keep playing these songs over and over again and I must see this this guy live soon this is the best new album and singer song writer to come out of ireland in years go buy this now.

Love this

Fantastic debut album, loved this guy's EP but this has great vision and is beautifully produced - compared to lots of people, Jeff Buckley, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes et al but this album is 11 great tunes that bring something new to the party - a big new Irish singer song writer

James McMorrow Debut. I likey....

This is a brilliant debut. "Follow you down..." from Barnardos TV ad is a haunting track.


Born: 14 January 1983 in Dublin, Ireland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Irish singer/songwriter James Vincent McMorrow didn't begin his musical life until he was well into his teens. Initially a drummer, he was drawn to the harsher sounds of At the Drive-In, Refused, and Glassjaw. He mellowed some while at college, where he discovered the more acoustic-oriented sounds of Sufjan Stevens and Band of Horses. He picked up a guitar at 19 after hearing Donny Hathaway's "I Love You More Than You Will Ever Know," and began writing songs and digging into the music of the '70s...
Full bio
Early In the Morning, James Vincent McMorrow
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