Album Review: James Vincent McMorrow – We Don’t Eat EP


On this EP follow-up to his 2010 debut, Early in the Morning, James Vincent McMorrow solicits more than one double take—you’ll want to make sure you hit “play” on one of McMorrow’s tracks, and not one by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.

McMorrow must know that his voice will invite inescapable comparisons to the Wisconsin troubadour, especially after Vernon’s recent string of Grammy wins shoved his airy melodies into the mainstream limelight. McMorrow’s mastered the signature falsetto croon that has become Vernon’s calling card, and he’s not shy or secretive about the fact that he wrote much of his first album while secluded in a beach house on the coast of his native Ireland, a la Bon Iver’s much-touted creation myth. If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, McMorrow has distilled it into an art form. He even sports a beard.

This comparison doesn’t always work in McMorrow’s favor. If Justin Vernon is an impressionist, painting with broad, colorful and abstract brush strokes, McMorrow is a realist, articulating every concrete line, detail and emotion. He seems afraid that the picture won’t come across if he doesn’t.

“We don’t eat until your father’s at the table, we don’t drink until the devil’s turned to dust,” McMorrow croons in “We Don’t Eat,” with more feeling than Adam Levine has managed to muster up in his entire career. He (McMorrow) is not afraid of laying all of his emotional cards on the table, but in a way that sort of reminds you of that guy (or girl) in college who was a little too into you after your singular hookup. The song is compelling, but almost feels written to suit a highly emotional scene in a teen drama (it was actually used in an episode of The Vampire Diaries).

McMorrow is a skilled wordsmith, and he knows how to write a damn fine melody. What he’s created here is a five-song collection that is excellent music to fall asleep to, but with his obvious talent, he can stand to aim a little higher than that.

Essential Tracks: “We Don’t Eat”, “Higher Love”