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Chris Murphy - The Red Road (Chris Murphy Music)

5 July 2024

It’s a nice feeling when you sit down to review a record, having watched the artist in question play live only the night before. And so it is with Chris Murphy’s latest EP, The Red Road. With the sound of his violin still hanging around me, I drop the virtual needle on the CD.

The brace of singles that have already been released opens the proceedings and between them tell us a lot about Chris’s musical world. “Never Learned To Drive” is a humourous tale put to a bluegrass groove, “Worn Thin” is a more serious message regaled in drifting Celtic sonics, and between the two, we get an insight into the wit and wisdom, inner thoughts and tall tales, vintage American sound, and ancient Irish moods that he makes his music from.

The title track is a troubadour tale about living in the moment with someone just wild enough to set you truly free, but it is the spacious and spiralling “Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe” that seems to resonate most with me. It is a blend of literary references, not just Poe but Shakespeare, too, woven into a reflective narrative. Finally, “Tara McKinley” is another of those character studies that Chris excels at.

Recorded music doesn’t capture the live experience all that well, although this does it better than most. But it is only live that all those extra moods and moments, those additional sounds that pool and percolate, all those sonics that are much more than the sum of the music’s parts, all those glorious unplanned ideas and improvisations happen. But until you get to see Chris Murphy live, and you must, The Red Road is the perfect way to fill your time.