The radio friendly “And General Robert E. Lee” sounds like pure Americana Rock particularly coming from an American ex-pat whose had made Paris his home for nearly two decades. The opening slide guitar riff brings George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” to mind. (Please standby as European florishes appear later.)
There is little doubt that this recording will appeal immensely to rootsy rock fans of The Band, Tom Petty, and Jakob Dylan. “Lost And Lonely” brings to mind a lesser known favorite of mine-The Dwight Twilley Band. Like Twilley, Murphy can “wax poetic” and the result is tastefully romantic,never schmaltzy: WITH EVERY STEP I TAKE/I STILL FEEL THE ACHE OF YOU/I WALKED A THOUSAND MILES TODAY/AND I’M STILL RIGHT HERE NEXT TO YOU…Musically,the pulsating of the bass guitar brings to mind a beating heart and could signify time’s passage.
On “Valley Below”, Murphy’s voice takes on a deeper timbre,reminiscent of Tom Waites or Leonard Cohen. By now,it is clear to me that this recording is to be viewed as a cohesive unit as opposed to separate songs. The line LET’S KISS THE LONGEST KISS/THAT WILL LAST A THOUSAND YEARS ties this song to the previous one.
“On My Mind” continues in the vein on “Valley Below”,up close and intimate. I feel as if I am eavesdropping on a starcrossed lover who is in the midst of revealing a long kept secret. On “Ophelia”,the bloom of the secret opens….IMAGINE FOR A MINUTE THAT YOU ARE LOVED BECAUSE…YOU ARE…Murphy is so close to the microphone that you feel his faintest breath.
“What’s That” reminds me of Lou Reed covering Bob Dylan’s “Foot Of Pride”. On this very roots rock recording,some tender Francophile flourishes are introduced on “Crespucule”. There is delicate finger picking and French style accordian that blend to create a winsome Parisian lullaby.
On “Scandinavian Skies”,Durand’s stunning opening riff and powerful solo envigorate the song. “Razzmatazz” paints aural portraits of Flamenco dancers. “Frankenstein’s Daughter” features tasteful,free form lead guitar by Murphy’s son,Gaspard.
“Crying Creatures Of The Universe” features delicate guitar stylings and the hominess of the harmonica evokes the warm of an old friend. NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND on LAST CALL records is Elliott Murphy’s 30th recording since his debut,AQUASHOW in 1973. I’ve been an admirer of his since NIGHTS LIGHTS in 1976.
Murphy will appear at Johnny D’s in Somerville,MA on Wednesday,December 10. This is his first US tour in eight years. He is joined by singer/songwriter,Jann Klose (reviewed earlier on TMR Zoo).
Johnny D’s is a close,intimate room which will well suit the intensely intimate feel of Murphy’s material.(Kudos to the booker! Not only can you enjoy Murphy’s songs up close and personal,but you can enjoy a fine meal. )