x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Album review: James Vincent Morrow – Post Tropical

The most striking - and risky - aspect of Post Tropical is McMorrow’s decision to jettison most of the gentle acoustic instruments so prevalent in his debut.

James Vincent McMorrow

Post Tropical

(EMI/Universal)

**** James Vincent McMorrow’s 2010 debut Early in the Morning was a collection of songs that unexpectedly found success in the charts and on television soundtracks. His follow-up, Post Tropical, finds the Irish singer-songwriter clearing out the shelves and starting from scratch.

The concise 10-song selection sees McMorrow attempting to capture the promise of spring and its associated notions of nostalgia, letting go and starting again. The most striking – and risky – aspect of Post Tropical is McMorrow’s decision to jettison most of the gentle acoustic instruments so prevalent in his debut.

Instead, most of the tracks are built on layers of electronica and some synthetic beats.

The opener Cavalier has McMorrow’s swooning vocals swelling gradually until reaching the hook lyric: “I remember my first love.” This simmering approach is also applied on Red Dust and Outside, Digging; both songs slowly reveal themselves and ultimately enveloplisteners with swooshes of keyboards and soaring vocals. Post Tropical’s subtlety may test the average pop-listener’s patience, but the pay-off is worth it.

sasaeed@thenational.ae