James Vincent McMorrow: If I Had A Boat
From start to finish, Early In The Morning (VAGRANT, January 25) is a ten-song recollection of one man’s journey through a time of change and transition. Having four years worth of songs written and endless time to document them allowed for James to dissect each song and perfect. Early In The Morning begins with a five-part harmony echoing over the sounds of an organ and folk guitar in the eerie opener, If I Had A Boat.
“I always knew when I wrote this song that it would open the album,” acknowledges James. “The last two years that preceded this record being made involved some of the greatest change I’d ever experienced, physical, emotional and spiritual. 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, realized what they meant.”
Serving as a perfect prelude to the nine tracks that follow, If I Had A Boat lyrically captures the underlying tone of the entire album. Written about transformation and change, the first song is equal parts thoughtfully crafted words and inventive instrumental arrangements, serving as a foundation for the songs to come.
Towards the latter half of the record a darker tone emerges, or as James puts it, “the closest I’ll ever get to proper mythical fantasy writing!” These songs are where we find him at his most literate and ornate, creating ominous figures, and a wholly tangible sense of tension and foreboding. Drawing on his childhood love of Roald Dahl, as well as his fascination with American novelists such as John Steinbeck and F Scott Fitzgerald, James draws life from their writings because “they all examine the darker less spoken about aspects of life, solitude, disillusionment. 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”
And then the album draws to a close just as it started, bucolic five-part harmony. The title track of the record, which James describes as a “simple ode to the love that I have”, is backed by a banjo and a piano, a folk round that fades out as quietly as it arrives, the squeak of the piano stool a final reminder of the homespun nature of what has just occurred. [From Official Bio]