Murphykid - Skeletons - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Murphykid - Skeletons

by Bill Golembeski Rating:8 Release Date:2018-10-12
Murphykid - Skeletons
Murphykid - Skeletons

This is a very good folk album, so let’s try to sell it by placing it in the same bin as Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago. And that’s not a bad thing at all. I’ve watched young music lovers clutch songs like “The Wolves (Act I and II)” to their hearts much like I prize Nick Drake’s album Five Leaves Left in which he sings about fruit trees that, in sad time, flower into “A much-updated ruin/From a much-outdated style.”

So yeah, this record was recorded by Yorkshire’s Murphykid (aka Al Murphy) who retreated, with true isolation broken hearted intent into his sister’s woodshed and bled these tunes onto an eight-track tape machine. Of course, that was back in 2004, before the rebirth of this sinned against Romantic sensitive singer-songwriter became, once again, voguish.

Now, true confessions: I’ve always had a place in my own (sadly) Romantic, sinned against, and extremely sensitive music critic soul for this singer-songwriter stuff long before the genre felt the urge to be reborn and grace the current souls of the young at heart with acoustic purity, introspective lyrics, and honesty that can be found in the isolation of a northern Wisconsin snowbound cabin, or, perhaps, a sister’s woodshed in darkest Yorkshire.

And speaking of songwriters, Paul Simon sings in his solo song “Duncan,” “I was playing my guitar/Lyin’ underneath the stars/Just thankin’ the Lord/For my fingers.”

This album does that: The record is filled with soft sincere melodies, and it’s filled with thankful fingers that touch guitar strings as they vibrate like the stars in the night sky.

The first song, “Asher & Isaac,” is a fairly big production number with drums, drama, and an electric guitar. The vocals are sincere and urgent, not unlike the voice of Barclay James Harvest’s John Lees during the band’s Time Honoured Ghosts period on a song like “Hymn for the Children.” I know that’s an obscure reference, but it’s given with the highest intended praise. The same certainly goes for the piano-driven “Seasons Change” and the dramatic “Breaking Bread,” which dips, perhaps, into the religious wine of deep-rooted folk music.

Ah, but “Wolf” is folk-singer acoustic bliss.

And then “Listen to Your Heart” is deep folk music that echoes the absolute beauty of fellow Yorkshire soul Chris Simpson and his band, Magna Carta. This one spins around and around like an ancient ring of stones that echoes the sound of dramatic heartbreak. I suppose that’s yet another rather obscure reference, but once again, it’s given with the highest intended praise.

By the way, there are many obscure albums that just happen to be pretty great.

And as my friend, Kilda Defnut, often says, “Obscurity is simply an apple Eve has yet to pluck.”

But back to the record: “The Underground” is a wonderful tune, which, to throw yet another rather abstruse reference into the tinder pile of this review, is clever enough to be a cousin of any song on Gallagher and Lyle (of McGuinness Flint and Art Garfunkel’s “Breakaway” fame) and their folk classic album Willie and the Lapdog. And ditto for “Another Bluebird” with its infectious melody and joyous harmonica.

Now, as Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson sang in Thick as a Brick, “Spin me back down the years and the days of my youth.” And (in the days of my youth), I remember buying Ralph McTell’s album Easy in a store called The Truckers Union in, of all places, Eau Claire, Wisconsin (which is, incidentally, way up in northern Wisconsin and only a stone’s throw from where Bon Iver pressed his heart into vinyl sympathetic orbit). Ralph was British; he was a folk singer; and I loved all the other guys like John Martyn, Nick Drake, and Michael Chapman; and the record had a nice cover. But, truly, it was so simple, just guitar and voice. I didn’t understand all the fuss. Until the tenth spin…and then its beauty revealed itself. The same is true, much later in life, for Canadian David Francey’s album The Waking Hour.

So, this album, like the others mentioned (and to sort of quote my friend Kilda), is filled with unpicked Edenic fruit, and it will take time to reveal its charms.

And “The Pact” gets even more into serious folk religion philosophy, hence the title.

“Un Malaise” is a sad, but oddly pleasant breeze of a song.

The final song, “We Are All but Lost,” is secure. It pulses with admission of its humanity. And I suppose this is the beauty of this record: It takes darts; it takes stones; it loses at love, and then it still sings its wounded beauty.

So, thank the heavens for obscure bits of music. And kudos for those fingers that ooze the beauty of a record that simply sings its message, a sincere broken-hearted SOS sent from a sister’s garden shed with an eight-track clarion call with the words that plead the possible impossible: So, yeah (again), because music can speak from the acoustic soul, it is indeed, possible, as records spin round and round, to remember that a quiet groove from an equally quiet grove, can, despite the heavy ladle of reality, still sing with the sad seeds, grown into a fruit tree, that will always wait patiently, just to be given a listen.

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