James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical

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jamesvincentcdThere is distinct vulnerability in James Vincent McMorrow’s voice on his latest release Post Tropical.  It’s a tone that casts a vision of remembrance, strained relationships and patience, and while these are vivid elements that stand out in the music, they cause parts of the record to blend together the way they are arranged.  Completely written and produced by McMorrow, Post Tropical features multiple degrees of his ability as a musician and songwriter.  His horn arrangements that blanket the melodies on the record provide more support for the motion of the songs, acting in a very linear fashion.

The opening track “Cavalier” is a captivating song that sets the bar at a high degree for the entire record.  “I remember my first love,” sings McMorrow drenched in a thickness of horns, self-harmonies and deliberate piano strokes.  The spacing between phrases from song to song draws comparison to the space between heartbeats, laying the listener down softly.

The vocal arrangements showcased on the record are of a very choral-based style, though the delivery and tone of the Irish singer-songwriter cause the words to appear more as brush strokes of sound rather than lyrics to read into for deeper meaning.  On the title track, “Post Tropical,” McMorrow uncovers a more aggressive entry into the second verse of the piece, which brings a new element towards the end of the record.  As with some of the other songs, the ending movement begins with circling melody that builds and builds and vanishes sharply, adding to the mysteriousness.

The post-tropic atmosphere on this record does at times echo of a coastal shoreline, especially in the opening section of “Repeating.”  Stylistically, a common denominator becomes visible though as the listener gets deeper into the record.  The pattern of using horns, choral harmonies and gradual crescendo is used frequently to build the songs but the single direction of this method prevents the songs from evolving further.  The vocal melodies stay within each other and hover in somewhat of a choral holding pattern.  Post Tropical is a patient and calming record that may fall in a state beyond sadness, but the idea of emotional discovery is still unclear when the end of the record is reached.

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