James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical

by Tom Elliott

I never longed to be a guy with a guitar. You play these songs live as best you can, and suddenly you’re a folk musician. But the texture of this record is completely different. This is the kind of stuff I actually listen to.

It’s clear that James Vincent McMorrow intended to depart to new musical pastures with his latest album, Post Tropical. Filled with cinematic soundscapes, harmonies and brass sections, McMorrow’s sound has expanded on his second LP. While his incredible voice remains as spell-bounding as ever, experimentation with a fuller band and a move away from being a ‘folk musician’ has resulted in an accomplished record that will be cherished by music lovers for years to come.

The traditional songwriting foundations of McMorrow’s first album, Early in the Morning, are still present. Post Tropical sees the same lyrical troubadour that wrote We Don’t Eat and If I Had A Boat, dare to make music that isn’t conventionally singer-songwriter. The album jumps between loud and quiet, sorrow and joy, collective ecstasy and solitary despair. For many of the songs, piano and percussion have replaced acoustic guitar as the base instrument.

Lead single Cavalier opens the record with a sorrowful account, building from quiet synths and subtle beats into a wall of sound accompanying McMorrow’s heartbreaking cries of “I remember my first love”.

I urge you to listen on. The real highlights are when McMorrow’s band hits full volume. It has been a long time since an artist sounded this honest. The hair-raising louder moments best exemplified in Gold, Look Out and title track Post Tropical are complemented by the haunting moments of solace that are interspersed throughout.

I always liked McMorrow’s debut album, but Post Tropical is a cut above anything he has previously released. His website claims that Post Tropical “requires attention and engagement” and “seduces you towards hidden depths”.

Give Post Tropical time. Listen to it all the way through and wait for those beautiful moments when that wall of sound bursts into life. I doubt you’ll regret it.