I don’t know what it is exactly about the genre my friend dubbed “beard rock” that makes me love it so much. For the most part, bands like Bon Iver, Band of Horses, and Iron & Wine are like more indie-friendly renditions of Dave Matthews Band (a band I haven’t ‘enjoyed’ since high school), but they give you way more street cred if you blast them in your headphones or play them at parties. Now I know that there’s a big difference between these bands and Dave Matthews, but, really, think about it.
Regardless, Early in the Morning, the new album by Irish singer/songwriter James Vincent McMorrow, is a solid work by a fantastic storyteller. McMorrow can quickly draw comparisons with Bon Iver and Iron & Wine: from the beard to the fact that the album was recorded in one six-month blast of creativity in a house in the woods. He also shares a fantastic and smooth falsetto delivery like Justin Vernon and Sam Beam, along with a knack for crafting some damn fine lyrics.
On album standout “Breaking Hearts”, McMorrow grabs your attention right from the start with the amazingly assembled line, “You can stop your cryin’, I’m never coming back/You can stop your cryin’ just walk down the tracks again.” Later the chorus of, “I’ve been breakin hearts for far too long/Lovin’ you for far too long,” is incredibly simple and poetic.
McMorrow spent those six months holed up in a house playing every instrument with excellent results. Early in the Morning stands as a great addition to the new folk/bluegrass explosion currently going on, and it should have some staying power in 2011. If you’re a fan of any of the aforementioned bands, Iron & Wine’s knack for storytelling, Fleet Foxes’ or Avett Brothers’ pitch-perfect harmonies, and/or catchy sing-a-long sensibilities of Bon Iver, then McMorrow should be put on heavy rotation immediately.