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McMorrow moving on to the next level

James Vincent McMorrow Post Tropical (Faction)

Despite the backwoods man chic that was the front-of-house image for his debut album Early in the Morning, the core of James Vincent McMorrow's work had an innate soulfulness that spanned the rural and urban divide with ease.

Only a churl would have damned the man as a Bon Iver RT. But there were times when it came close. So close that it took the man's interpretation of Steve Winwood's Higher Love, a version you could play at an autopsy without causing offence, to set him on the path to creative freedom.


Others had walked this road before. But McMorrow grabbed his chance with the defiance of a lepidopterist convinced he's preserving beauty in a world that's roaring towards extinction.

He hasn't composted the facial shrubbery. But he has owned up to his inner D'Angelo, one-time urban fave in the Beckham household, and got busy with the beats, the loops and a new repertoire of plaintiff rumination.

The 10 songs on Post Tropical may cause mild consternation among some die-hard devotees. But even lumberjacks have an inner Barry White, so it all should work out fine.


This time out McMorrow dresses his falsetto in warm Fender Rhodes keyboards. That instrument has an in-built tremolo effect which, when processed, can conjure a dreamy otherworld. A good place for McMorrow to start weaving these fragile ceremonial mantras of desire.

But this isn't a Michael McDonald or Donny Hathaway singalong. McMorrow studiously allows each song to find its own momentum. Synth flourishes, random handclaps, ethereal clarinet, orchestral cymbals and tinkling bells are judiciously employed throughout to underscore his tremulous emotional shout outs.

While at times the album dissolves into a blur with McMorrow's vocal difficult to decipher, it's impossible to ignore its core appeal. And with Glacier, Cavalier and Red Dust among them, there are enough memorable songs on here to move McMorrow to the next level. HHHHI