by Melissa Caruso
UK singer-songwriter, James Morrison, the kid who grew up on his parents' record collection of soul, funk and country, surprised New Yorkers with an exclusive free showcase at Dominion on Tuesday night. With a packed line stretching down the block, it's evident that Morrison has no trouble generating Stateside attention. A musician who admits that hearing Stevie Wonder for the first time "brought me nearly to tears" surely has a knack for deeply emotional experiences, both recorded and live. Amidst the bar chatter before he went on stage, fans couldn't wait to see new tracks performed from his 2011 The Awakening, with its wealth of glittery soul and pop rock.
A wide range of fans, from Wall Street businessmen to hippie princesses, stood before the stage like tightly-packed sardines for the intimate show. With shiny posters and glossy stickers of Morrison dangling from their hands, fans bopped up and down, stood on their tip-toes and snapped images with iPhones to get a glimpse of the man on stage.
The beautiful ballad "I Won't Let You Go," with its lush female backing vocals, doesn't take much to tug at the heartstrings. Girls in their boyfriends' arms were singing and swaying along to the lyrics, and even several dudes couldn't help showing their love for the leather jacket performer, shouting: "Yeaaahhhhh, Morrison!" The grooving rocker "Slave to the Music" (see video below) exemplified Morrison's edgier side, as his contagious stage poise provoked the crowd to bop along to the chorus: "She got me rocking, she got me moving, she got me dancing."
With a crowd hanging onto every word and giggling at his wit, it's evident Morrison has a solid following in New York. And, The Awakening is an unusually revealing effort, with tracks highlighting his experience of becoming a father, as well as the death of his own father. A true artist in touch with his emotions, Morrison not only has the ability to naturally express his affection on stage, but also off as he stood outside the Dominion in the chilly night, warming fans with hugs and smiles.