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Post Tropical is the second full-length album from Irish singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow, but those looking for similarities between this release and his debut album will find themselves coming up mostly empty-handed. Unlike his first record (2010’s Early in the Morning), which was mostly acoustic folk, Post Tropical draws inspiration from McMorrow’s love of R&B, resulting in an album that is textured and breathtaking.

What remains the same is McMorrow’s breathy falsetto, which is the first sound that breaks the silence on the evocative opener “Cavalier.” An ode to first love, “Cavalier” at first is hesitant and vulnerable, then it slowly gains its confidence, as if the emotions are fading into the distance as the song progresses.

The ten tracks on Post Tropical are unified, but each engages the listener in a different way: while “The Lakes” crackles with swirling pixels of sound, the rhythm and trumpets of “Gold” clearly draw inspiration from 1960s soul, and accents and rolling snares give “Repeating” the momentum of a racing train.

The mid-January timing of its release seems appropriate — Post Tropical feels like emerging from the darkness of winter to feel the crisp spring upon your face, to breathe in the air and know that there is promise ahead. This is emphasized by repeated refrains, like “I was in the dark,” on the whimsical “All Points,” or, “There is something alive from the warmth of the sun,” in album closer “Glacier.” In that way, Post Tropical is a ray of hope that manages to remain both consistent and interesting the whole way through.

By Sara Elizabeth Taylor

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