Chris Murphy - Water Under the Bridge (2017)

Written by Bradley Johnson, posted by blog admin

Unafraid of defying the laws of musical genre and drawn to intriguing compositions that can veer from a blues-soaked downturn to an upbeat 50s rock-a-thon to four on the floor blues and beyond, songwriter/instrumental mastermind/singer/producer Chris Murphy drops the latest in his long line of studio recordings, Water Under the Bridge, and it’s a joyfully wild ride that’s worth taking.  This is Murphy’s first collaboration with the Blind Blake Blues Band and it’s one that sounds like it could have lasting power for both parties. 

The synergy and symmetry are present throughout the entire album.  There are a lot of dynamically stacked textures, surprisingly varied takes on the band’s influence, and supremely tight instrumental simpatico and mindful utilization of varying tempos to maximize the musical fun factor.  Plus once you get this band going, good luck catching them.  These cats can play off of each other for days and it shows on each cut contained on Water Under the Bridge.  Telepathic swerves on tracks like “Moveable Feast,” “Joan Crawford Dances the Charleston” and “The Lemon Rag” provides melodies and arrangements that will imprint to your memory piece by piece, more and more every time you listen to one of them.  Whether it be the boogie woogie piano, alternating acoustic/electric guitar stings, the violin’s tactically unique approach to tackling different styles or the way the upright bass riffs are as equally good as any other musician’s performance and worth listening to in their own right only attests to how good these songs are. 

Murphy (and his stellar, stalwart band, The Blind Blake Blues Band) make it be known that anything goes on this teamwork based-effort.  Everyone just locks onto the blues and rides every aching, low man’s crest on “Riverboat Blues,” and though there’s a certain melancholy to this track it never rides the graven image for every long, if at all and turns the slow motion of tragedy into a really hypnotic, swaggering little number.  “My Spanish Lover” draws from the obvious Spanish influences and perhaps a touch of the Latin rock types of influences too.  The mid-tempo meower and growler “Tomcat Blues” smashes out a no-good polecat rhythms that’s left to roll around in rank rockabilly guitars, taut blues bends and an all-around snarly rock n’ roll attitude.  Then the album throws another one out of leftfield in the form of closer “Cheer Up Mickey” where Hendrix’s visionary “sense” if you will if played by Murphy and his violin/viola over the absolute bare minimum of percussion and no other accoutrements impeding on Chris’ performance.  This piece feels naked, raw and wonderfully stripped down; yet another one of Murphy’s many sides. 

This is an inventive, exciting album.  It’s very easy to recommend this to anyone you meet because the musicianship is so tight and the songwriting so infectious that the more tracks that you continue playing; the deeper you will get caught up in getting sucked into the experience.  For true jazz, blues, country, rock and folk aficionados, it doesn’t get any better than Chris Murphy’s Water Under the Bridge.