Kalispell singer-songwriter Mike Murray is ever the balladeer, using his mid-range baritone to weave through songs covering the scope of human emotions. He wrote all the tunes on his third album, Tumbleweed, and rounded up a bunch of local musical friends to help him out on the CD.
There’s his wife, Jessica, on background and lead vocals, Christopher Krager, bass and backing vocals, Marco Forcone on drums, Ryan Wickland on pedal steel, and local favorite John Dunnigan on banjo. Nick Spear and Kevin Van Dort add backing vocals, and Brent Jameson guests with a smokin’ hot guitar solo on “Cold Cold World.”
Murray worries about aging, and fights the battle against insecurity. He is baffled, like the rest of us, about how to earn wisdom, and sings of unabashed love. And he couches those subjects in absorbing country-folk melodies.
The whispery soft waltz, “Audrey’s Song,” stretches out quietly, with a melody that highlights Murray’s ability to slide around in his vibrato-y tenor range. Pretty!
The title tune has him wandering, looking to be grounded and missing his loved one. Jessica adds harmony. The last tune is an alternate version of “Bury Me in Montana” – a slow rocker imbued with a sentiment we who love this place all feel.
“Big Jim” is a great folk tale about a hard-nosed trucker, boxer, and World War Two veteran. Murray based the song on his and Krager’s late grandfathers, who served in that war. Murray finger-picks a mesmerizing guitar riff as mournful fiddle and pedal steel play quietly behind him. His voice is full of melancholy, complemented by the now fuzzed-up steel that scrapes our ear canals with an eerie noise. That’s some atmosphere!
Murray whistles the intro on “Every Man for Himself,” and Jessica shares lead on the love song, “Never Flown This High.” There’s much more, to be sure.
– Mariss McTucker