I:M

James Vincent McMorrow @ Colston Hall

I:M
James Vincent McMorrow @ Colston Hall

Following the release of his third and most ambitious album, We Move, last month, James Vincent McMorrow is assuredly doing just that. The Irish singer-songwriter has been moving around the country since the beginning of October on his most jam-packed album tour to-date, showcasing his most finessed record and uncovering his whole new style.

From the outset, the transition was obvious. In the capacious venue of Colston Hall, McMorrow was accompanied this time by a full band, complete with backing singers. In every attempt to retreat to previous albums, there was something different. This new take on old material saw the singer replacing the space and melancholy of familiar tracks such as ‘Down the Burning Ropes’ and ‘Breaking Hearts’ with pelting bass lines, electronic synthizers and upped-tempo’s to create a darker environment, epitomising his makeover from a stylistically limited (albeit remarkable) Irish folk-singer, to a serious player who assertively commands his way across a vast range of genres.

Greater composure ensued midway as McMorrow addressed the audience. A natural storyteller, he shared his nostalgia about his last visit to Bristol in more humble circumstances. He confessed his overwhelming desire for change, whilst grappling with the self-confidence and anxiety that comes with it. From that heartfelt admission, he slowed down into ‘Lost Angles’, ‘Higher Love’ and ‘Hear the Noise that Moves so Soft and Low’ – holding the stage completely to himself. Everybody sat in silent appreciation of his unique talent. It was exactly what people had come to see.

The only song that didn’t work as well was single, ‘Get Low’. It was too promiscuous stylistically and as such, sacrificed his distinctively personal sound for little more than a series of neat guitar riffs and the hushed interplay of McMorrows electronically modified voice and that of his backing singers. Perhaps he hasn’t quite mastered this new genre live yet or perhaps the reality is that he can’t escape from his greatest instrument– his spine-chilling falsetto voice. Nevertheless, his affiliation with hip-hop and electronic rose to the surface more naturally in some other We Move tracks. In particular ‘Evil’, ‘A Thousand Times’ and second single, ‘Rising Water’, were a flawless demonstration of his new direction.

Overall, it was an impressive performance. McMorrow should be applauded for escaping the narrow confines of his singer/songwriter background and striving to create something with more depth and honesty. His ability to hold on to such a unique sound when venturing into uncharted territory is what makes him such a talented and accomplished artist.

Fi Sharland

4 stars.