Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Chris Murphy - The Tinker’s Dream

Chris Murphy - The Tinker’s Dream 

Chris Murphy’s astounding productivity as a writer and recording artist is, apparently, inexhaustible. He’s released three full length albums since the mid way point of last year and the latest of these releases, The Tinker’s Dream, will likely stand as his supreme achievement from the recent spate of recordings. He’s shown a remarkable flexibility delving into a number of musical styles and this new album sees him pursuing largely European influences with strong hints of Americana naturally seeping through. The Irish/Italian born native of the New York City area has played alongside some of the most iconic recordings artists and songwriters of recent generations, but his solo work measures up every bit as much to the creative bar set by those names on his artistic résumé. The Tinker’s Dream is a largely instrumental work, but it surges with melodic ideas and instruments that embody, in their virtuosic display, every bit as much vocally as the greatest of singers could provide.  

“Connemara Ponies” starts off The Tinker’s Dream in a very cinematic way. This is melodically lush and Murphy solos over the top of the other instruments with clear designs in mind regarding the song’s melody but, likewise, a untethered spirit playing with unmistakable inspiration. It has a breathless pace but Murphy and his accompanying musicians never push things along too fast. “Union of the Seven Brothers” is another instrumental, but has a much more restrained feel than its predecessor. There’s still an abundance of instrumentation in the tune, but the relaxed pace it takes in comparison to the opener makes for a dramatic contrast. The album’s title song is more reminiscent of the first, but it takes a moderately relaxed posture in comparison and has a bit more playfulness about it than the music on a mission feel audiences will likely get from the album’s initial track. The first lyric and vocal comes with the song “Wicklow”. Murphy’s vocals don’t have the same attention-grabbing fluency of his violin playing, but he’s a more than capable singer who obviously puts thought into his phrasing and listens carefully to the surrounding music in order that it inform his vocal approach.  

The other standout song on The Tinker’s Dream with singing and words is “Cape Horn”. It’s the album’s first single and has an accompanying video, but one listen will illustrate why this is the case instead of one of the album’s fine instrumental tracks or the other lyric laden numbers. It’s a much more developed narrative here than any of the other lyrics and the song also sets itself up as a instrumental spotlight for a variety of players, including Murphy, to show off their skill set. “The Tower” is one of the album’s finer instrumentals and the pronounced hop in its musical step will remind some of the bubbly energy we heard in the first song. A final instrumental surprise comes with the track “The Thistlewood Bridge” thanks to its interesting melody lines and their graceful movement throughout the piece. The Tinker’s Dream is a dazzling display of musical skill and imagination spiked with a strong dose of pure inspired fun.  

9 out of 10 stars 

Bradley Johnson

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