Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Album review: JOHN MURRY - The Graceless Age

Highlights: Little Colored Balloons, ?No Te Da Ganas De Reir, Senor Malverde?, Southern Sky, If I’m To Blame

Listening to The Graceless Age (note the title) is an overwhelming experience. Right from the start you feel completely bogged down by lush, monstrous waves of sadness and depression. With The Graceless Age – you’re right in the thick of it; and while it’s not the nicest place to be, you have to consider the artistic, aesthetic merit of the whole thing. The album is absolutely fascinating in its raw, suppressed anger that smacks of relationships half-broken and suicides half-committed.

Those who know the beautiful, bruised sounds of John Murry’s World Without End from 2006 (with Bob Frank), will certainly recognize the dark, emotional devastation of The Graceless Age. And – no, I’m not being melodramatic: it really is that miserable.

Not that this stuff can’t be inviting and almost likeable: it’s depressing all right, but it’s depressing in a sort of warm, engaging way; the brooding, mellow melancholy of the catchy “Southern Sky” is case in point. Then there’s the nice, country-esque “Things We Lost In Fire” (has to be a perfectly justifiable nod to Low) and the perversely uplifting chorus of “Penny Nails” (‘this isn’t love but I need it just the same’). However, the edge is most certainly desperate, and when you hear a line like ‘so debonair, so fucking full of shit’ in the crude, gorgeous, suicidal “If I’m To Blame” – it becomes almost unbearable. The only solace being the handsome fingerpicking and the pretty piano lines carrying the tune.

The 10-minute “Little Colored Balloons” is another clear highlight, a thoughtful and brilliantly arranged epic that features, among other things, some inspired violin playing in the background. In fact, the only track I could live without is the somewhat murky and not too strong melodically “California”. Otherwise, I have few complaints about this grand, measured outburst of anger and frustration.   

P.S. Screw that bit about "California". It's brilliant.


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