BY THE sea, in a house full of beat up instruments, only one microphone, very little engineering knowledge, and plenty of patience, was where James Vincent McMorrow recorded his songs.
The resulting album, Early in the Morning, released earlier this year received wide critical acclaim and catapulted the young Dubliner to the forefront of the Irish singer-songwriter scene.
“This record was borne out of my desire to create something singular, take the simplest of chords, wrap them in washes of melody, so lines come in, they drop out, everything ebbs and flows as the songs move towards their inevitable end,” explains James.
“I don’t sit down with an agenda when I write, I usually have a first line, and a vague sense in my head of where I’m going, but no real solid structure. Music tends to reveal itself to me over the course of weeks and months. It’s probably quite like sculpting, you have a chisel, you know what’s waiting for you inside the stone, all that’s left is to chip away the pieces and reveal it.”
James admits that the last two years of his life have been a source of inspiration for the lyrics to his album and he describes the period as one of “transition”.
“The last two years that preceded this record being made involved some of the greatest change I’d ever experienced, physical, emotional, and spiritual,” he says. “When I write lyrics they come together in a pretty uncoordinated way, lines get written, slowly link up until a story reveals itself. It was only when I was finished that I looked back and saw the words for what they were, realised what they meant.”
There were other influences working on the record as well, such as James’s favourite writers Roald Dahl, John Steinbeck, and F Scott Fitzgerald.
“They all examine the darker less spoken about aspects of life, solitude, disillusionment,” he says. “I’m not one for defining a lyric, or what it definitively means, but songs like ‘Follow You Down To The Red Oak Tree’, ‘From The Woods’, and ‘Down The Burning Ropes’ are certainly me exorcising the underside of my personality. The characters I create in those songs, the ones existing in the shadows, they are all elements of me for sure.”
Playing these songs live, is for now, an intimate affair, but James has plans to expand his sound in the future.
“I dream in vivid Technicolor when it comes to my songs,” he says. “Playing on my own right now is beautiful because it allows me to connect on a very primitive level, but I’d like to be in a place soon where I can be surrounded with friends on stage to share this with me.”
A similar idea also pervades his approach to songwriting. “Music to me is this fluid notion,” he says. “I’ve captured one element of it with this album, but there are endless others out there to be sung and written about”.
James Vincent McMorrow plays the Róisín Dubh on Friday June 11 at 9pm. Tickets are available from the Róisín Dubh and Zhivago.