- 26 May 17
“It feels like we’re on the Late Late Show,” McMorrow laughed over the applauding crowd, before launching straight into the opening track from True Care, “December 2914.”
It’s only been nine months since James Vincent McMorrow’s last album, We Move, but that hasn’t stopped him from releasing a surprise album, out today, titled True Care. Last night, as part of the countdown to the album launching worldwide at midnight, McMorrow hosted an exclusive gig at Dublin’s D-Light studios. With his band, he played the full album live to a lucky audience, just over a hundred people out of the couple thousand that applied to come to the gig online.
As True Care only took five months to make, and had been a secret up until about a week ago, many had asked why McMorrow was releasing a new album so soon, so he answered that one head-on. “I made a new record, and I guess a lot of people were wondering why,” McMorrow explains early on in the gig. “And my answer, I’m not trying to be glib, but my answer has been, why not? Life is short, and the life of a musician is a strange one. I know it’s really trite to say, people used to make lots of records, but the truth is, they did. But now the cycle has changed, the way music tours has changed. Tours are really long. So it makes sense, I guess, financially, to make a record and then tour for eighteen months and then take a break. But the idea of sitting in the dark and waiting for my time to come back around seemed ridiculous to me, cause I had this record and I had these songs, and I wanted to make it. So I just did it.”
He’s right, the industry is changing, but everything around the release of True Care shows that McMorrow is one of the artists who is adapting, at least to some of the change. Even with his free-spirited attitude that empowers him to release a new album whenever he damn well pleases, his promotion of True Care was dependent on the new relationship between music and technology. For the past week, True Care has been all over the internet, shrouded in mystery and anticipation. There’s that ominous jellyfish all over McMorrow’s social media, then there’s last night’s gig, announced on Twitter and broadcast live on Facebook, and even a playlist curated on Spotify that took soundbites from the album interspersed with tracks from Neil Young, The Doobie Brothers, and The National. However, only one of those bands gets their own song in the new album.
“I’d like to apologise to the band The National for implying that all of their songs are about death,” McMorrow grins after playing new piano ballad “National”, with the lyric “You said your favourite song was the one about death/I said every single one’s like that/In fact there’s literally nothing left." “National” is a standout track, with McMorrow letting his vocals turn to a raw emotive howl at the end. Kicking up the energy with “Thank You” which balances out McMorrow’s sci-fi lyrics of "I keep on having dreams/That gravity's a raging moon/Even in my dream/The gravity distorts the room" with upbeat funky bass lines, the whole band fills the room with sound. Next track, “Constellations”, brings back another one of those classic McMorrow crescendos to stunning effect.
Though it is refreshing to see an artist making music on their own terms, McMorrow does feel the need to explain himself a bit throughout the night. This gig, he explains, is for his fans, the loyal ones he already has. “A lot of record campaigns are based on, ‘let’s try and get the people that don’t like you.’ It’s like, how ‘bout we make something for the people that do like me? And worry about those other people later? So this is what I’m doing, this is why this show exists.”
Another standout of the night is final track “Don’t Wait Forever,” performed acapella with unreal vocals all around from James and co. ends the night on an otherworldly note, encapsulating the celestial sound that people have come to expect from James Vincent McMorrow. Judging by the crowd, both in the studio and around the globe watching on Facebook, the next album can't come soon enough.
Watch the video of the full performance below.