Album review: James Vincent McMorrow, We Move

****

James Vincent McMorrow’s 2010 debut, Early In The Morning, was a charming minor pleasure — sweet and homespun yet clearly indebted to the Damien Rice school of Irish every-dude angst. However, the Dundalk-born, Dublin-based singer switched things up dramatically with 2014’s neo-soul influenced Post-Tropical and has, with We Move, produced his most definitive album yet.

This is a strange and swirling collection, built around McMorrow’s sweet and sour falsetto, and with an ocean of emotion churning just beneath the surface. McMorrow has a vocal credit for the Drake track ‘Hype’, as featured on the Drizzy’s Views LP, and it is obvious they are kindred moochers. As with the Canadian megastar, McMorrow is here revealed to be a poet of the comedown, his glistening voice perfectly suited to 3am crises of confidence.

One major departure is that, for the first time, McMorrow is working with a major league producer, Nicki Minaj and Drake side-man Nineteen85. His bustling chart touch enlivens the material and rescues the songs from McMorrow’s crying-on-the-toilet melancholia. Framed by drowsy funk guitars and 80s drums, ‘One Thousand Times’ is a soul-baring dirge, with McMorrow crooning “I don’t want to live without your love” as though being without a girlfriend is the sorriest fate a bearded hipster can suffer.

Even better is ‘Rising Water’, a slow-jam woven from sampled hand-claps, zig-zagging synths and a twitchy beat. It suggests Talking Heads trapped inside a Bon Iver ballad and, in its own, furrow-browed way, is on speaking terms with genius.

McMorrow is unquestionably on the cusp of something. He gained international recognition when his cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ was picked to score the trailers for season six of Game of Thrones (of greater value than all the airplay play in the world). ‘With We Move’ he steps confidently towards a more mainstream sound: This is an often deeply mysterious record but one that is endlessly catchy and accessible with it.


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