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Murphy, Mark: Slip Away

In many ways it could be seen as the easy way out to take songs written by some of the greats, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Paul McCartney and Randy Newman (I'm not sure The Tragically Hip can be classed as a 'great', but covering their music is no cake walk) and pop their names on the back of your CD, while putting yours on the front. Get that move wrong however, and well, there's no place to hide. It's this risk that acoustic guitar player and singer Mark Murphy takes on Slip Away. To his credit it's difficult not to see it as a masterstroke, Murphy and his gaggle of equally talented band mates making these songs their own. Newman's "Dayton, Ohio 1903" is chosen to introduce proceedings and almost immediately have you hooked on a relaxed but assured delivery that makes you live the songs as they share them. Able to morph his voice without ever losing his own identity, Murphy's simple but effective vocal style proves hard to resist and when he's joined by Maria Neckham for a duet of Dylan's "Boots Of Spanish Leather", the results are exhilarating.

"Tell Me Why" may not be the most famous moment from Neil Young's After The Goldrush album, but with a little added sax from Dayna Stephens the track takes on almost lullaby qualities, the beat a gentle rock of the hand as Murphy leads you into another wonderfully told story. Cleverly, Paul McCartney's "Waterfall" is transformed into piano led jazz light, the considered meander most welcome, while The Tragically Hip's "Bobcaygeon" proves an eye catching stroll that much like everything else on Slip Away, transforms what could in the wrong hands be safe and steady and makes it indispensably vital.

It's easy to focus on the covers and in doing so Murphy comes up trumps and yet for future releases I hope this talented song writer turns a stronger light on his own compositions, the four songs he's written for this album easily amongst the best. "Kiwi", which rolls along on a deft shuffle, highlights the understated but skilled guitar work from Murphy and Gilad Hekselman, while "Conversations", with its dabs of organ from Jon Cowherd and rolling beat from Jeff Ballard, adds an air of Bruce Hornsby to the mix; the combination of Stephens' sax and Chris Morrissey's enigmatic bass work, utterly captivating. Leaving "All Things Turn" to find Murphy at his most pensive, while the album's title track shows up just as well in a more exuberant setting that almost brings to mind a less obtuse Steely Dan.

At first glance Slip Away proves almost too unassuming, the easy nature of all nine tracks on show only truly revealing their true beauty as you spend time with them. Once you do, there's no turning back, because what Mark Murphy specialises in simply refuses to slip away.


Track Listing
1. Dayton Ohio - 1903

2. Conversations

3. Tell Me Why

4. Boots of Spanish Leather

5. Slip Away

6. All Things Turn

7. Waterfalls

8. Bobcaygeon

9. Kiwi

Added: January 1st 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Mark Murphy online
Hits: 957
Language: english

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