John Murry – The Graceless Age
The Graceless Age marks the return of an arch miserabilist. Murry’s previous album was a collaboration with Bob Frank and consisted of two artists howling a bunch of murder ballads gruffly, very gruffly. Now, Murry’s back and he’s on his own. He’s been through an awful lot in the meantime. Not least, he OD’d and had to be revived by paramedics when both he and his dealer had given him up for lost. In this album, he tells us his story. “I’ve beaten my brain on benzodiazepines”, he sings, setting the scene, on ‘California’. At the end of ‘Little Colored Balloons’ he keeps repeating “On 16th and Mission”. 16th and Mission was where he OD’d. Affecting? You bet. Depressing? Not a bit. This is no grizzled old artist with just an acoustic guitar. This is miserabilism with tunes. Miserabilism with melodies. Miserabilism that makes you want to hum the chorus. The songs are epic and not just because two clock in at more than eight minutes. There’s a big sound. A huge sound. Keyboards and guitars of all sorts. Cellos. Backing vocals. The album rocks. Well, sometimes at least. Murry communicates real emotion in his lyrics. They’re confessional but never morose, never maudlin. And just so that things don’t get too comfortable, there’s always a sense that trouble isn’t very far away. Here, he tends to confine it to the spaces between the tracks. The cracked bell that tolls. The phone-in of the birth that almost never was. You end up being really glad that you aren’t John Murry, but so thankful that there still is a John Murry and that he can produce such a beautiful album.