Chris Murphy – Two Rivers Crossing – EP
This is the 19th release by Chris Murphy – a 6-track EP of originals that touch on lyrical themes of redemption, love, loss & hope. The songs are adorned with his soulful voice & Americana folk violin. Murphy was inspired at an early age by the melodic Mississippi-Delta blues of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee.
All instruments on these tunes were played by Murphy.
“Early Grave,” (first single) opens the set with rousing violin & gets about as traditional Americana as one could get. Murphy’s voice is not rugged but quite polished & what gives it authenticity is his pristine intonation & grasp of folk-inflected lyrics with unadorned music. Don’t let the polish get in the way of appreciating the roots & branches of his showcase.
Murphy was born into an Irish-Italian family near NYC & that alone is quite musical. The interesting mix & influence is Murphy’s Italian mandolin appreciation coupled with American bluegrass, folk & Latin music. Based at present in Los Angeles, Chis has had a busy 30-year career & extensive catalog along with many collaborations.
At first, some of Chris’ playing is simple violin/fiddle sawing that may not impress people used to Doug Kershaw & Alison Krauss but as you listen bursts of brilliant soloing spark brightly & the tone is pleasant.
The EP Two Rivers Crossing (Drops Oct 15–Friendly Folk) was produced by Murphy with Kevin Jarvis & recorded in California. It’s interesting music since Chris succeeds in creating a genuine vintage antiquated atmosphere of roots music with his vocals & performance. Nothing sounds retro though because Chris has a splendid stripped-down sound that is authentic to the genre. No big choruses, soloing by other musicians – just back porch, jug at the rocking chair, bloodhound sleeping at your dirty bare feet – all it really needs is someone playing a saw & blowing into the top of a big jug. It’s bare-bones music with swagger.
“Complete Surprise,” is simplistic & very accessible since it’s got a mainstream drive & clever lyrics. Chris adds both mandolin & violin to the slow poignant ballad “Long Ago.” Chris is able to create an atmosphere with diverse blends & the creativity here is in its simplicity & slow build. None of the songs are corny, silly, or novelty-oriented. The potential for each as barn-burning square-dance tunes is the addition of a full country band. Each melody has air – plenty of room for musicians to just purr through each with their respective instruments. You can almost hear it.
In a word the 6-songs are delightful.
Highlights – “Early Grave,” “Into the Past,” “Complete Surprise,” & “Long Ago.”
Color photography by Eric Stoner. CD @ https://chrismurphymusic.com/