Album Review: James Vincent McMorrow - True Care | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Album Review: James Vincent McMorrow – True Care

Kylie McCormick stories the unconventional release of James Vincent McMorrow's flawless new album

In most media there is a structure that falls into place with releases. Whether a new movie, a new book, or a new piece of music, artists craft and curate a release schedule that is full of press and marketing. The plan is specifically structured for maximum exposure, equaling maximum amount of dollars during the launch. We are all not immune to such hype, the slow buildup of excitement that comes from tracking our favourite entertainment across its press - the final bit of excitement coming in the jubilating purchase of the new form of entertainment, ours for a small fee. This is the typical tract, but like all good and reliable things sometimes they must be overturned. Music artists are reshaping the typical release; blame it on social media or Spotify, this new form of release takes bite-sized bits of music released in unorthodox venues. The brilliant James Vincent McMorrow took the new trend and completely flipped it, releasing in an anarchic and organic way new album True Care. Walking through the three-pronged release we will venture to understand how James Vincent McMorrow released newest album True Care and how it is the perfect strategy for the wholesome album.

James Vincent McMorrow is Dublin-based ambient electro singer-songwriter phenomenon whose album We Move was released in 2016 to momentous applause. Each song from that album, and the others that proceeded, are beautifully orchestrated, storylined tunes that are both brilliant and beautiful. After releasing the 2016 album, James and his band toured extensively, so we as fans figured that the artist would take a bit of a break after such a mountain of a year. Luckily, we were wrong. In the third week of May, James started posting pictures of album artwork, teasing perhaps a new single. Then it happened - James tweeted that a new album would be released!

Huddled around our laptops thousands of people watched with eager eyes and hungry ears, drinking in every tune that was to come from the new album.
Why is this so exciting and important? Well, it was exciting because fans of James are always looking for more music and more of his uniquely crafted tunes. It was also exciting because many had just got over and familiar with the 2016 album, and new music meant a new journey with James! It is important because the way in which it was announced stripped away any of the usual buildup of the record. There was no prerelease plan, no formal structure. Rather it was James on his various social media accounts letting fans know that he had created an album that was for them during this interesting period of life. Like all other albums, True Care was said to be an honest and emotional tracking of what had happened in the mere year that existed between the previous albums. The announcement and the timeline display the new approach to music release, of artists taking back some sense of autonomy.

One week after James tweeted about the release of a new album, fans were gifted with a live stream in which James and his band played through the entire new album. Huddled around our laptops thousands of people watched with eager eyes and hungry ears, drinking in every tune that was to come from the new album. The free concert is shockingly contradictory to a normal release; the normal release hides and withholds music from fans so that they are driven to go out and stream or purchase the album. James completely flipped this secrecy, streaming live a show that exposed every nuanced bit of the new tunes. It is a beautiful mirage of lights and sound, the emotional arches that have come to typify James’ music. It exposed the relationship with James and fans; as an artist he merely desired to have these tunes heard and so by contradicting the typical route he allowed all to hear and receive the beautifully crafted work.

True Care is a breathtaking, exposing journey into the life of James Vincent McMorrow.
New album True Care is a breathtaking, exposing journey into the life of James Vincent McMorrow. It is deeply vulnerable, full of questions and theories that are based in the current reality of frustration and confusion. The glamorous bits gleam brightly, while the darker bits cast an ominous shadow that perfectly demonstrates a world of emotional and mental highs and lows. While still keeping in sync with his other work, True Care is a beyond flawless addition to the catalogue that James Vincent McMorrow is crafting.

Music must be heard to be real. Often artists create amazing music that is not ‘on brand’ or ‘created in the correct moment’ and therefore it is never released. James Vincent McMorrow throws all caution into the wind, defying the typical trend of releasing and instead announces an album, plays a show, and releases all within a week. It is the perfect set of actions that stream from the unconventional artists, and yet the care and precision show the true depth of music and fans that James carries. True Care is a brilliant new album that is worthy of all acclaim. As James Vincent McMorrow takes to the road to play a double show, he will play the new album and then come back to play older hits, as well as many festivals. I cannot wait to see how this album morphs and continues to take on a life of its own, transforming all who listen to it.

Music contributor from Los Angeles. PhD in Music Festivals and Identity. (@kyliemccormick)


3rd June 2017 at 7:21 am

Images from

Sarah Doyle