I often say of myself that I do not like “chill” or singer-songwriter accoustic music. As such the beginning of James Vincent McMorrow’s set at Millenium Park today (he opened for the Sadies) instilled trepidation. One diminutive man in a white T-shirt and jeans with a single guitar and a fuzzy beard, standing on a massive stage. Needless to say, it didn’t seem like something I was going to enjoy, despite his excellent songs. But I was proven wrong.
An enormous part of McMorrow’s success on stage is his emotionally direct, yearning songwriting. Couple those affecting songs with his round falsetto, and you have a concert certain to stir people. By the end of the set, an enormous power poured from that small man, especially in “Early in the Morning” and the closer, “If I Had a Boat.” The latter held me rapt as McMorrow’s heavy brow tilted skyward and his voice strove upwards to joy, even cracking once with the emotion and strain. And the penultimate song (I don’t know what it’s called) had a beautiful ending as he spun silky a cappella melismas through the air.
James Vincent McMorrow proves the power of a voice and exquisite songwriting, and showed me how a singer-songwriter can ever be successful.