On his fourth album, Kalispell’s Mike Murray delves deep into what it means to be human, exposing our warts and worries, our doubts and regrets. The singer-songwriter wrote it while recovering from a serious vocal polyp due to overuse. He plays all the instruments, save bass by Christopher Krager on “Aeneas,” and performs all the vocals. His wife Jessica shares harmonies in places, too.
Murray’s terrific mid-baritone range allows him to swoop and dive from low notes to falsetto on original pop, rock, country and folk pieces. His burnished voice is heightened by a quivery, grainy honesty: he’s hopeful, even elated, on some tunes, and depressed on others. He swaddles them all in great guitar solos and sailing choruses.
The title tune is a soft rocker about loyalty, steadfastness and love during hard times. It’s got a catchy melody with lots of sustained ooh-oohs; the country-hued loper “Love the Ride” chides those who only see the negative in things; and “Human” encapsulates the album’s theme. It’s poignant and comforting because we all experience the emotions he writes about.
“Man with a Shovel” is moody and minor, and quite dark. There’s also “Lightning Bolt,” with its up-tempo and happy feel. It’s flush with young love.
In “I Would Rather Die,” Murray dreams about being left by his lover, and the angst it causes. “Wake up, wake up, I think I’m gonna drown … this nightmare’s got me swimming upside down,” he wails.
His songs are so visual in their melding of words and melody, and the orchestral layering of instruments, they’re almost cinematic. Methinks this percolating rocker could play in a James Bond movie.
There’s a lot to absorb here. Do it! Visit mikemurraytunes.com.
– Mariss McTucker