If you were only familiar with James Vincent McMorrow’s first album, you’d be forgiven for wondering why so many keyboards were on display before he took the stage at Manchester’s Albert Hall, and why there were no guitars.
James Vincent McMorrow has come a long way since his 2010 folksy debut album Early in the Morning, full of delicate guitar playing and harmonious vocal melodies shining around his angelic falsetto. The falsetto and melodies have stayed but they’ve now been fused with soft, subtle and low-key R&B vibes that reverberate and swirl around pianos and keyboards, with a hint of groovier and funkier electric guitar here and there. If the second album was the transition, his third and latest proves that he’s now in full control of his new style as he confidently performed most songs off his new effort, also managing to blend the old material with the new effortlessly.
Backed by a stunning light show that seamlessly flowed along to the changes in his music, he started off with “Red Dust” from 2014’s Post Tropical which culminated in his virtuoso high falsetto longingly ringing out clearly against a backdrop of soft warming colours. From then on, his set shifted between lovelorn songs of missed romances and edgier and funkier songs such as “Get Low” from 2016’s We Move with brilliant backing vocals, and that album’s first single “Rising Water” which had people tapping their feet and bobbing their heads to it. He found time to perform “We Don’t Eat” from his first album, with a single repetitive piano note driving the song to its climaxing end and he also found the time to casually address the public and sound humbly privileged at playing in such a magnificent chapel-like building which only added to the quiet reverence his music radiated.
Despite the newfound style, finishing the set with first and second album highlights “If I a Boat” and “Cavalier” best portrayed the calm bliss James Vincent McMorrow is able to infuse into his music, providing the audience with a cathartic release on their dreamy way back to bed.