Pin It

CD Review: Shane Murphy 

Shane Murphy Loose Strife / Tight Grief

(2010, Independent)

In her book The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication, author Margaret Shepherd optimistically opines: “The handwritten note is not going to die out just because some of its everyday functions have been taken over by e-mail and voicemail. Adapting to the needs of every fresh generation, it continues to connect people.”  The same could be said for the ancient archetype of the troubadour, especially as seized by Poughkeepsie singer-songwriter Shane Murphy, whose handwritten press release is anachronistically worded and whose intimate, captivating debut Loose Strife / Tight Grief proudly bears aural fingerprints and breath smudges. Clearly, the thickening stew of technology-rich culture has done little to stop the creation of fine tintype songwriting.

“Fortress-Strong” opens this 11-song collection with expertly wrought, cascading imagery of wild dogs, pocket lint, and “an eyesore of diamonds.” Like Bob Dylan giving props to Ginsberg and Van Morrison to Blake, Adirondacks-raised Murphy cites as influences fellow Northeasterners Frost and Whitman, weaving poetically resonant, often wintry vistas in which to set emotional struggles of loss (“Procession”), doubt (“Systematic”), ecstasy (“Glass Floor”), and protest (“Pack of Wolves”).

As Loose Strife / Tight Grief spools out, stylistic vocal nods abound; Tim Buckley’s elastic, acrobatic croon; Antony Hegarty’s dramatic quaver; Scott Walker’s burnished baritone. Deft acoustic guitar work provides the bedrock throughout, with occasional atmospheric background brushstrokes of tabla, melodica, soft piano, and keening electric guitar. Antecedents aplenty, but the vision and delivery are idiosyncratic and completely Murphy’s own; a welcome, refreshingly original take on the unvanquished troubadour.

click to enlarge CD-Shane-Murphy.jpg

Speaking of...

  • Robert Burke Warren reviews Shane Murphy's album "Loose Strife / Tight Grief."


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Hudson Valley Events

submit event
Luminous Ragas: Indian Classical Music Concert @ SUNY Ulster

Luminous Ragas: Indian Classical Music Concert

Thu., March 26, 7:30-8:30 p.m. — SUNY Ulster’s Spring Artist in Residence Steve Gorn on the bansuri flute...
Art Foray @ Mohonk Mountain House

Art Foray

March 23-26 — Affordable art show of hundreds of works by mid-Hudson Valley artists presented...

View all of today's events

Latest in Music

  • Smells Like Queen Spirit
  • Smells Like Queen Spirit

    Perfume Genius and guest Jen Hval will perform at BSP Lounge in Kingston on March 25 at 8pm.
    • Mar 1, 2015
  • Nada Yoga and Poetic Footwork
  • Nada Yoga and Poetic Footwork

    Steve Gorn, Grammy-winning bansuri player, and Janaki Patrik, the director and co-founder of the Kathak Ensemble & Friends dance company, are bringing Indian culture to SUNY Ulster this spring.
    • Mar 1, 2015
  • Nightlife Highlights: Brazilian Girls
  • Nightlife Highlights: Brazilian Girls

    Early on, the band, which this month plays Club Helsinki for the first time, won the patronage of Talking Heads main man David Byrne, who appeared on their 2008 single "I'm Losing Myself" (the group covered the Heads' "Cross Eyed and Painless" for a 2007 AIDS benefit album). The foursome's danceable cocktail makes a fine tonic for the winter blues.
    • Mar 1, 2015
  • More »

Related to Music

More by Robert Burke Warren

  • Book Review: Corruption in America and Off the Sidelines

    A review of Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United by Zephyr Teachout and Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World by Kirsten Gillibrand.
    • Feb 1, 2015
  • CD Review: Madman

    A review of Sean Rowe's new album by Robert Burke Warren.
    • Feb 1, 2015
  • More »

Hudson Valley Tweets