John Murry “The Graceless Age”
The southern United States have their own culture, mythology and traditions. It is manifestly a different place than the rest of the continental USA. Murry is completely immersed in the Southern aesthetic (even William Faulkner himself makes a posthumous guest appearance), the ghost of Mark Linkous haunts the songs and the Mississippi flows through them.
When you get so entrenched in the mythology you lose sight of reference points and it can become difficult for an audience not steeped in the same tradition to follow. ‘Little Coloured Balloons’ makes the same error as Josh Pearson’s last record; it asks us to follow it blindly for nine minutes without offering a reward for doing so.
It is a bit of an aberration though; ‘Things We Lost in the Fire’ sensibly unleashes a firestorm of guitars as a reward for getting through the first five minutes of the song. Aside from the Sparklehorse influence I can also hear the Willard Grant Experience, especially on ‘Southern Sky’ which offers a collage of electronics and traditional instruments providing a sound base and when he is joined by a female voice for the chorus, it catches and soars. This song can proceed for as long as it wants, it continues to evolve and switch as it progresses.
The earthy organic otherworldliness of Mark Linkous is also apparent on ‘Penny Nails’, the mix of distortion and sweetness that is fecund to the point of decay. The vindication of Murry’s approach can be heard in ‘The Ballad of the Pajama Kid’ (which makes me think of Chris Mills). It eloquently mixes traditional songwriting forms with enough disturbance, enough leftfield lurches to keep this listener fully entertained. Tim Mooney from American Music Club helps out and produces, he’s more at home in ‘California’ which takes Murry out of his comfort zone, maybe into AMC territory you can hear Mark Eitzel’s influence too. He’s no convert to it though "It’s not you.." he sings "It’s California I can’t stand". It’s a densely textured record, one that rewards immersion; it sounds three times the record on headphones than it does in the car.