mon 15/08/2022

Album: James Vincent McMorrow - The Less I Knew | reviews, news & interviews

Album: James Vincent McMorrow - The Less I Knew

Album: James Vincent McMorrow - The Less I Knew

Sixth album from multifaceted Dubliner hits peak melodicism

Supreme melodist: James Vincent McMorrow

An artist with a myriad of strings to his bow – gifted wordsmith, multi-instrumentalist, captivating storyteller – what enables James Vincent McMorrow’s singularly personal songs to take flight is the fact that he’s also a supreme melodist.

The Less I Knew is chock full of killer chorus hooks, with album opener “Hurricane”, in which McMorrow’s gloriously harmonised vocal line is supported by the additional ear candy of Alex Borwick's horn parts, being a case in point. Borwick also supplies some driving mandolin work on “Heads Look Like Drums”, as well as engineering and mixing the album – a very handy man to have around. The stream-of-consciousness “Steven” explores the existential comfort which nostalgia can provide, while acknowledging the impossibility of returning home.

Gently borne along by a hypnotically repeating syncopated chord on the piano which seems to bathe McMorrow’s sotto voce lead vocal in a warm harmonic cloud, the arresting opening line of the title track conjures up the surrealist imagery of a Kafka short story: “A beating heart is thrown out of a car in the dark, I find it and I check it for scars and make sure it’s clean.”

Augmented by surround sound synth pads, the monolithic groove and slightly grungier stylings of “The Reason That I Died” packs a real punch, while the brilliant “Lighten Up” showcases McMorrow’s penchant for harmonic and textural surprise. The stripped back simplicity of acoustic guitar, call-and-response backing vocals and repeating sample which haunts “I Am a Masterpiece” perfectly sets up the album closer, “A Lot To Take”, which inexorably builds to a soaring chorus which McMorrow delivers in a euphoric falsetto.

@MrPeterQuinn

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters