Daniel Polak (James Vincent McMorrow – Early In The Morning)
James Vincent McMorrow has been circling in my peripheral vision for some time. The occasional stumble across a song of his on the radio. A favourable internet review. A great YouTube song. It did take me a while to buy the album though, largely due to an understandable wariness of folky singer-songwriters after the sour taste left from the war crimes of Messers Johnson and Blunt.
Upon buying the album, I was delighted at my ability to overcome this prejudice. The album is a delight from start to finish, a moving story told by a delicate, enchanting voice. I really felt the album draw me in, and, as with any good music, I yearned to play it again and again, whilst worrying that too much attention might break the fragile, tender relationship.
The music is folky, but not particularly depressing. It’s warming, comforting and cosy, without being too much of the sandal wearing stoned and heart-broken hero.
The most easily accessible song is This Old Dark Machine, however it’s certainly not alone on the album, which, in the writers opinion, manages to be complete with any potholes.
I’m off to see him in a fortnight at the Royal Festival Hall, and will duly report back. But in the meantime, if you like something quieter to kick back to, I thoroughly recommend giving it a go. He may be a singer-songwriter beginning with J, but don’t let that stand in your way.
Harry Harland (Broken Records – Until The Earth Begins To Part)
Until he Earth Begins To Part is the debut album by Celtic indie-folk six-piece band Broken Records. It came out in 2009 to a load of fairly unsubstantiated hype about how they were the “Scottish Arcade Fire”, as is sadly predictable for the music press upon the discovery of a multi-instrumentalist band (despite the presence of guitars, the songs are largely violin and accordion-driven). This is not necessarily the case, but despite the brilliance of Arcade Fire, this is not a bad thing in this instance.
Singer Jamie Sutherland is clearly a fairly intense character, and if you are searching for something light-hearted, then this might not be for you. His vocals pour emotion, whether it is on the gorgeous, delicate Wolves, or the faster tempo of If the News Makes You Sad, Don’t Watch It. With the folkiness seeping through the record, the band more accurately represent a halfway house between Mumford & Sons, Bright Eyes and the aforementioned Arcade Fire.
Additional standout from the album, If Ejlert Løvborg Wrote a Song, It Would Sound Like This proves that, despite being a little bit up their own arse (Ejlert Løvborg being a character from acclaimed 19th Century Norwegian play Hedda Gabler), they have a knack for a deeply-intense tune. Sadly, the follow up album failed to build on the potential displayed here, but nonetheless this is a wonderful and beautiful album.
I’d recommend this album for fans of music generally, particularly those who enjoy a bit of folk and gloom.