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Reviews: Lauren Murphy ~ Magnolia Heart|
Posted on Saturday, February 04, 2006 @ 08:51:20 UTC
Artist: Lauren Murphy
CD: Magnolia Heart
Home: San Anselmo, California
Style: Bluesiana Country Rock
Quote: "Hurricane Katrina laid waste to the Delta region, but Magnolia Heart proves just as boldly that the music of that place lives on, as strong as ever."
By Todd Beemis
Lately, musicians have been releasing paddlewheeler loads of tributes, homages and what-all to benefit the victims of Katrina. Like carpetbaggers after the civil war, descending on the Mississippi Delta -- if they bother to go at all -- these hopefully well-meaning people have issued a widely uneven blend of country, blues, rock, punk, rockabilly, you name it, to raise money for a worthy cause.
Which is why it's so reassuring to find that Lauren Murphy's Magnolia Heart, a solid -- in parts triumphant -- paean to Murphy's Delta homeland, not only scores a musical direct hit, but also directs a portion of sales proceeds to benefit musicians impacted by the worst meteorological disaster in recent memory.
The two finest examples of Murphy's affection for the land of her roots are the first track, "Muddy Marydale," and the third and eponymous track, "Magnolia Heart." Both have the benefit of Murphy's blues-rock voice in its best form and the presence, like kudzu, of a meandering Hammond B3 and dobro. It's probably a good time to mention that, next to the vocals of Murphy and her husband Judge, the Most Valuable Player on this album is Chip Roland, who appears to be a regular B3 Mozart.
The middle of the CD has a few attempts at free-form, Cheryl Crow-like word poems ("SOS," "Tryin, to Find a Little Intelligent Life") that are less successful, with Murphy and an overly-present, out of synch guitar losing their way.
However, all is redeemed in the final three songs -- all written by artists other than Murphy: "Evangeline," the classic by Robbie Robertson; "Mercy" by Grayson Capps, the CD's one, true, blues rock rollicker; and, the fantastic "Same Ol' Blues" by Don Nix. The mightily in-form vocals of Lauren Murphy, Judge Murphy and the contributions of Roland and his fellow musicians combine to turn these last three tunes into a final exclamation point that so few CDs today possess.
Hurricane Katrina laid waste to the Delta region, but Magnolia Heart proves just as boldly that the music of that place lives on, as strong as ever.
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