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Chris Murphy (from the EP Two Rivers Crossing on Friendly Folk Music) (by Lee Zimmerman)
Chris Murphy could be identified as a proverbial jack of all trades, but given his professional resume, one that encompasses a variety of instruments and any number of different genres, such a categorization doesn't do him justice. With his new EP, Two Rivers Crossing, Chris Murphy makes a decided detour into abject Americana employing nothing more than vocals, violin, and loops. Yet despite the bare-boned arrangements, the music is rich, riveting and quietly compelling.
That's evident from the outset, given the solid stomp of "Early Grave" and the assertive strains of "Into the Past", the track that follows. Chris Murphy effectively easily adapts to the role of a kind of genteel journeyman. In essence, that comes as little surprise. In a career that spans 25 years, 16 solo albums, and any number of eclectic collaborations — The Dandy Warhols, Nels Cline, Mike Watt, D.J. Bonebrake, John Doe, Herb Pedersen, Tim O’Brien, Bruce Molsky, Joachim Cooder, L. Shankar, Peter Thomas, Doug Pettibone, and members of The Waterboys included — Murphy has demonstrated an ability to easily adapt whenever the situation demands.
That affinity for eclecticism was spawned early on while growing up in New York City, surrounded by a diversity of sound that included everything from Bluegrass, Folk, and World Music to the emerging sounds of Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Ry Cooder, Richard Thompson, and Jackson Browne. Later, his interests expanded to include Turkish, Indian, and other Eastern motifs. Violin eventually became his instrument of choice at age 22, and he’s now a teacher in addition to an artist who records, performs and scores music for film.
Which brings us back to the new EP, a follow-up to his 2021 album Sovereign. While it’s a small sample of Murphy’s overall musical arsenal, it does find a focus in its sturdy sound and traditional trappings. Certain songs — “Complete Surprise in particular — sound like an old-world jig, while others, like “Long Ago”, boast a pluck and strum that comes across like a more nuanced narrative. The instrumental “Shantallow” provides the album with a concise closing.
All in all, Two Rivers Crossing makes for an ideal sampler of sorts, one that suggests Chris Murphy’s musical flow continues uninterrupted. (By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Chris Murphy from AMAZON
Please go to the Chris Murphy website for more purchase and artist information
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