Chris Murphy – The Road And The Stars
This is a lively set by Los Angeles violinist/multi-instrumentalist Chris Murphy who has constructed an expressive set of potent melodies over the years. Starting with “Sailing the World Alone,” with his fine Americana voice & radiating musicians. It has its listenable qualities in balance with its danceable invigorating elements. Virtually impossible not to smile & tap your foot while listening to this kind of music.
Originally from the New York City area Murphy already has 19 acclaimed solo LPs that dip generously into folk/country/roots rock/Celtic/jazz/blues & world music. With The Road And The Stars (Drops June 16–Teahouse Records) Murphy unleashes several wickedly good retrospective tunes compiled & recorded between 2016-2018.
Murphy has appeared on many major artists’ albums throughout his career.
There have been other prominent violin/fiddle players through rock & country music – Scarlett Rivera (discovered walking on a street by Bob Dylan), a classically-trained violinist Patty van Ness (Private Lightening), Richard Greene (Sea Train), country-fiddler Doug Kershaw, Allison Krauss & even the late John Hartford. It’s a sound that will always colorize a fine tune whether a lead instrument or a featured one. And Chris Murphy is one of the best at this.
Murphy has his serious songs & more mainstream commercial attempts (“Kitchen Girl”) which are entertaining. The bands that use lots of fiddle/violin usually prescribe to fiery melodic runs & Chris is quite adept at this approach as are the Oysterband & Spirit of the West. Progressive rock bands like King Crimson & Van der Graaf Generator.
But the music of Murphy is rooted in a more traditional manner & each piece is constructed with melodic sawing & garnished with a musical complexion that is smooth & substantiative. “Small Wonder” meets the balance between being traditional, mainstream & sounding complex. The energetic run-through on those little strings is like a spark on the end of a fast-burning fuse.
The live “Caves of Killala” is included on this CD & the electronic edge added to Murphy’s violin is a haunting sound like a strong wind blowing through deep crevices. Chris does it all with ease & transcends the old-fashioned manner in which we associate a violin. If I had heard this kind of violin playing when I was young I may have finished my lessons.
Highlights – “Sailing the World Alone,” “Connemara Ponies,” “Last of the Twickham Blackbirds,” “Small Wonder,” “Caves of Killala” & “Hard Bargain.”
Images courtesy of Chris’ website. CD @ Bandcamp + https://chrismurphymusic.com/
Enjoy our previous coverage here: REVIEW: Chris Murphy Two Rivers Crossing