James Vincent McMorrow “Wide Open, Horses”

Nettwerk 2024

Seventh album sees McMorrow reconnecting with himself with great results.

Having had his tracks streamed over a billion times in the last fourteen years as well as having his cover of Isaac’s ‘Wicked Game’ open season six of Game of Thrones Mr McMorrow obviously knows a thing or two about producing commercially viable music in the streaming era. One could almost ask what the necessity of an album is with such a high-profile streaming/Spotify presence. On the evidence of his seventh, for McMorrow it is more about the songs than the product but he is blessed with such a commercial instinct that the two happily co-exist.

Opening with the poppy, strummed ‘Call Me Back’, the template is clear McMorrow’s vocals front and centre and insistent rhythms building to catchy climax. ‘Darkest Days of Winter‘ similarly starts gently and then unfurls into a Beatlsey chorus. The production is highly polished with sympathetic toms and subtle splashes of guitar and keys. However, the album steps up a gear with ‘The Day All The Lights Went Out’, a beautifully delicate thing with swooning pedal steel that builds in a very Bon Iver way to its giddy climax.

The centrepiece of the album feels like two specific tracks – firstly, ‘Never Gone’ which feels like McMorrow is trying to reclaim a bit of his humanity after the success of the last few years. It’s almost confessional. Hymnal backing vocals, plucked banjo and again the pedal steel, and the gentle handclaps moving things along. Lovely. The second track ‘No One Gets What They Wanted‘ has slashes of guitar and urgent vocals leading to a sharp, insistent cry from the singer.

This is a highly commercial album that gently unfurls with each play. Here is an artist who is adept at straddling the chasm between art and commerce and coming up with something honest and this album feels just that.

8/10
8/10

About Keith Hargreaves 404 Articles
Riding the one eyed horse into dead town the scales fell from his eyes. Music was the only true god at once profane and divine The dust blew through his mind as he considered the offering... And then he scored it out of ten and waited for the world to wake up
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