James Vincent McMorrow

Post Tropical

The Mexican border: on one side, the contained security of El Paso Texas, the safest city in the United States. And on the other, the ruthless bustle of Juárez, where the reign of drug cartels have seen it escalate into one of the most dangerous communities in the world. In the no man’s land near the border, there lies a shady pecan farm – and it is here that ‘Post Tropical’, the strange but beautiful second album from James Vincent McMorrow, was brought to life.

2010’s ‘Early in the Morning’ took James from pushing trolleys at an airport and recording in an isolated cabin near the Irish Sea to a number 1, gold-certified debut album, and a nomination for Ireland’s Choice Music Prize. Along the way, there were shows everywhere from the Royal Festival Hall to Later…with Jools Holland, and a breakout hit in the charity cover of Steve Winwood’s ‘Higher Love’. McMorrow’s first record was the formative sounds of a songwriter who suddenly found people giving a damn. “I’m so proud of that album,” he says now, “but I never longed to be a guy with a guitar. You play these songs live as best you can, and suddenly you’re a Folk musician. But the texture of this record is completely different. This is the kind of stuff I actually listen to.”

‘Post Tropical’ is a stunning piece of work – built up slowly but spontaneously from hundreds of non-linear sound files and disparate lyric pages, resulting in ten meticulously-crafted songs. Its broadened horizons may come as a surprise to everyone but McMorrow himself, who has (amongst other things) harboured a lifelong love of hip-hop and atmospheric R&B. “I found a zip drive recently, which dates back to before I made my first record, and I’d re-recorded every single part of the N.E.R.D album – apart from the vocals – just for the joy of it. I wanted to give this record the feel and movement of the R&B records that I love.”

It’s a step forward that is immediate apparent on album opener and first single ‘Cavalier’ – a brooding twist on the Slow-Jam, which builds quietly from hushed keys and hand-claps to soaring brass, beats and McMorrow’s idiosyncratic falsetto. Across the album, the sounds and melodies evolved from a painstaking process of building texture: there are 808s on the haunting ‘Red Dust’, looped piano on ‘Looking Out’, and 50 mandolins made to sound like a waterfall on ‘The Lakes’. McMorrow’s sometimes-surreal songwriting holds each element in place, on album which he wrote, produced, and played virtually every instrument. Rarely has chaos sounded this controlled.


Support-act: Broken Twin
Wednesday 12 Februari 2014
Rotterdamse Schouwburg, Schouwburgplein 25, Rotterdam
Main Hall (seated) opens at 19:30, program starts 20:00
Tickets €22 (ex. fee), pre-sale starts on Wednesday 27th November at 10:00 via the websites of Motel Mozaique, Rotterdamse Schouwburg and Ticket Service.

Concert agenda