Written by Pamela Bellmore, posted by blog admin
Chris Murphy’s latest studio release in a successful and critical acclaimed spate of recordings is Water Under the Bridge which, in the scheme of things, is a much more “traditional” minded album than some of Murphy’s most recent entries. This release finds him dividing the fourteen song track listing between instrumentals and lyrically driven numbers that manifest a number of sides to his musical character. He’s a long-respected member of the Americana scene in our national music, as well as an educator and respected producer. Murphy’s rubbed elbows and worked alongside some of the genre’s most formidable musicians and songwriters for a reason – he can withstand the proximity to their stature. His latest studio album Water Under the Bridge reaffirms those gifts and adds to his growing legacy.
He has opened past releases with stirring instrumentals and continues the trend with this latest studio offering. “Moveable Feast” is a spirited, melodic delicacy that Murphy and his musical collaborators dispatch with an impressive amount of energy. The second track and instrumental on the release, “Joan Crawford Dances the Charleston”, has much of the same nuance that longtime Murphy fans admire while still containing a bright enough shine to draw newcomers in. He doesn’t indulge listeners with any lyrics until the album’s first song, but Murphy and his partners have such musical and melodic talents, vocal-less songs are just as pleasing as any words or singing. “Table for Two” is an excellent introduction to his lyrical prowess on the release and the album’s jazzy theme continues unabated.
The slow, graceful winding of “I Swear I’m Going to Learn This Time” befits the reflective nature of its title, but Murphy’s compositional sense and the accompaniment he receives doesn’t drag it down into unnecessary moodiness. The title “My Spanish Lover” accurately reflects the song’s contents and the spicy energy is a welcome shift in gears while still burning the blue jazzy flame. “Benzedrine Shuffle” is a carefully controlled, laid out tune without much of the wild shriek you might expect from an instrumental so entitled. The shuffle aspect is quite strong, but never overwrought. There’s an immense charisma coming off all these tunes and even presumably darker numbers like this are reflective of the personality that helps make Murphy’s music so special. “Tomcat Blues” is a real growler that Murphy’s longtime fans will definitely appreciate and it’s enough off the beaten path of most Murphy tunes that it stands out all the more. “Dog Ear Blues” has a warm, immediate sound that grabs you from the first, particularly thanks to its percussion, and ranks among the album’s best blues-influenced numbers. Murphy closes the album with a final fine instrumental, “Cheer Up Rickey”, that recalls his latest release with its presentation of just Murphy’s violin and stomp box. The effect, however, is a memorable final curtain for Chris Murphy’s latest studio platter.