Let’s Get Tropical
Erin McAuliffe | Wednesday, January 15, 2014
While gallivanting about on horseback, shouting favorite artists back and forth with my friend, I discovered the magnificence that is Justin Vernon or Bon Iver (pronounced “Bone Eevare” for those who want to avoid being shamed). British accents have a way of convincing you of anything. After spending the week riding horses in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I returned home to Ohio with a copy of Vernon’s “Bon Iver” in my carry-on. When I got home I rushed to my laptop to finally play the album my new English friend had convinced me I would love. (British accents have a way of convincing you of anything).
After downloading Justin Vernon’s “Bon Iver,” my iPod nano saw no other artist for the remainder of the summer. Around September I began to need some variety. I started a Bon Iver Pandora station and came across James Vincent McMorrow. McMorrow had a similar style and the breathy, earthen tone that relieved my western nostalgia. The sound of his 2010 record, “Early in the Morning,” got me through just that as I listened to it everyday on my bus ride to school.
Perhaps the reason that both Bon Iver and James Vincent McMorrow had the ability to transport me to times of log cabins out-west was the fact that both artists recorded their albums in isolated cottages. The sound produced by this method of recording has a distinct rough yet airy resonance. My lumping of the artists was not the only comparison made between the two. The artists’ beards, falsettos and uncommon recording strategies inspired many a critic to connect the two.
When I saw that McMorrow would be releasing a new album this winter I was more than enthusiastic. I yearned for more of that unique crooning that can transfer me to carefree times spent on horses instead of Twitter. McMorrow’s album, “Post Tropical,” did not fail to deliver. He wrote, produced and performed the entirety (talk about a triple threat). The record, released on January 13, is less folky than his first album. There is a definite R&B component to the songs not present in his previous work. This serves to produce a robust, smoky sensation and when mixed with his falsetto, watch out.
McMorrow recorded the album in isolation, in the fittingly named “Lone Star” state. They say everything’s bigger in Texas and it seems as if McMorrow took this saying to heart during the time he spent recording there. The record is confident and hearty, a contrast to the “Early Morning” album.
The lavish sound of this album has changed my mind about the relationship between Vernon and McMorrow. While I started using McMorrow’s music as a much needed, similar substitute to Justin Vernon’s crackly falsetto, this album’s lavish sound has convinced me that McMorrow’s sound is more developed and lush than the sometimes cold sound of Bon Iver. Therefore, until Vernon releases a new album, McMorrow’s Texas-creation has made him the “Lone Star” in my mind.
“Post Tropical” makes for a perfect studying companion. The rhapsody will surround you in (tropical) warmth as you watch the snow fall from your spot in Hesburgh. If you enjoy Bon Iver, be sure to give McMorrow a listen.
Contact Erin McAuliffe at [email protected]