By Kharis Lund
James Vincent McMorrow is an important artist for our generation, not just because his lyrics are so visceral and fresh, but also because they speak to a greater yearning that is in all of us to share and to be understood. Set against the backdrop of the natural world, McMorrow (an avid reader himself) uses the power of story to create music that contains undertones of longing and desire, mixing in references to the ocean, glaciers, mountains, and trees. His sound also ebbs and flows, ranging from soft melodies of songs like “Higher Love” to bold, electronic sounds like “When I Leave”, that while unique, are evocative of artists like James Blake or Sam Smith.
Along with his astounding range and talent as a musician, he’s an incredibly humble artist and a great storyteller. At the sold-out show McMorrow performed at the Neptune Theatre last Sunday, he reminisced about mishaps and adventures that befell his band and him while touring the US and Canada. He told the audience about his love for Seattle and that he was so grateful for all of their support, having built up his fan base in North America from the ground up without the help of any established record labels.
At one point, pulling the crowd in even further, Mcmorrow unplugged his guitar and played a gorgeous acoustic version of “And If My Heart Should Somehow Stop.” Without his band or even a microphone, his lone, unadulterated voice swirled around the silent room and filled it till it was bursting through the venue. An intensely raw moment, I finally understood the extent with which his depth of insight and pure artistry stands out in what today is often a sea of overproduced music.