\"Great music and musicianship, and wonderful songwriting and singing\"
CD: Weary Nights
Artist: Thomas-Joseph & Murphy
One of the ways I measure the quality of a new cd is by working out how long it has been in my car cd player. Take, for example, my previous favourite cd of the moment, Campbell Todd by Campbell Todd. That disc spent five solid weeks in my car before being ripped to my mp3 player (and placed back in the car!). And I have a feeling that this five week record may well be broken by Weary Nights.
At the album launch event I sat next to a guy who obviously knew good music (he\'d recently been to gigs by Robert Cray and Kate Rusby) and he told me that he\'d had a copy of the cd for three weeks, and in his view there wasn\'t a bad track on it. As I write this I\'ve had the cd for two weeks, and I tend to agree.
It\'s ever so easy to fall into the trap of comparing T-J & M with a certain famous male duo, big in the 60s, started on the folk circuit, had lots of hits, played guitars... But such a comparison wouldn\'t be fair, and I prefer to judge this duo on their own merits. What makes these guys, and this album, so good is the combination of a number of factors. Just one factor on its own would have made for a good cd, but when combined the result is pure magic.
Factor 1: the vocals. Lead vocals are taken by Thomas-Joseph who always seems to sing the lyrics like he means every word. He\'s joined with complementary, understated harmonies by Murphy.
Factor 2: the guitar-playing. So often when I hear two people playing acoustic guitars together they play the same tune in exactly the same way. The brilliance of what T-J & M do is that they each play their own guitars in their own individual ways, with the two tunes seeming to dance around each other in a playful, symbiotic way, complimenting but rarely copying the other. The fact that they are both excellent guiartist in their own right obviously helps.
Factor 3: the songwriting. The songs are top quality. Never cliched, and always genuine, telling tales of real life and fictional stories. There are a number of real gems, with my personal favourites being What Went Wrong, Old Dog, and The Vine Fields.The credits on the cd simply state \"all works solely written by Thomas-Joseph and Murphy\" with the words and music being a collaborative effort.
Factor 4: The guest musicians playing bass, percussion, harmonica, violin, viola and piano add colour and depth to the songs - they complement but never overshadow the real stars of the piece.
So, when Thomas-Joseph & Murphy combine all four factors they present us with Weary Nights, a special CD, with great music and musicianship, and wonderful songwriting and singing. These guys deserve that big break and Weary Nights may well be the thing that gets them noticed.
Review © 2008 Graham Holland
TJ and Murphy. Amazing Liverpool musicians.Their music and my thoughts
TJ AND MURPHY
Where they are from: Liverpool, United Kingdom
How to contact them:
Ring Billy, their manager on 0151 256 1660
Where to hear them:
My Space: http://www.myspace.com/thomasjosephandmurphy which also has an events listing including various 2010 tour gigs.
Upcoming Liverpool gigs:
10 July 2010: 15.00: Beatles Day: Liverpool City Centre, Outdoor Stage
23 July 2010: 20.00: View Two Gallery: 23 Mathew Street, Liverpool L2 6RE Tel.0151 236 9555: http://www.viewtwogallery.co.uk/events
13 November 2010: International Guitar Festival Of Great Britain with special guest, Jeff Jepson: Birkenhead: Priory Street Birkenhead Wirral CH41 5JH: http://www.bestguitarfest.com/html/index.asp
Read an article/interview in Liverpool Magazine (page 9): http://issuu.com/liverpoolmagazine/docs/liverpoolmag_issue18
Hear them rehearsing four Beatles songs for Beatles Day 2010 at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E21zbjWOhLg
Other links to TJ and Murphy information at: http://directoryofliverpool.net/blog/2010/04/29/tj-and-murphy-liverpool-beatles-day-2010-uk/
YouTube clips of TJ and Murphy performing at Studio 2 Parr Street: http://directoryofliverpool.net/blog/2010/06/14/tj-and-murphy-parr-street-studio-2/
Who are they mainly?
Thomas Joseph: Guitar and vocals
Dave Murphy: Guitar and vocals
Line up can also include:
Ted Guy: Harmonica and Slide guitar
Jake Foord: Bass
Mark Byrne: Drums
Alison Campbell: Viola and piano
Stated influences include: Crosby, Stills and Nash, Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Paul Simon....
What they play: Original material. Released debut album, ‘Weary Nights’.
Some of their Song Titles (original material): ‘Not Enough’, ’Free Man Walking’, ‘Power of Persuasion’, ‘The Feelings Gone’......
My highly subjective and personal thoughts (guys, please forgive me if I misrepresent or misunderstand you):
It was a best friend, with whom I share many musical encounters, who was solely responsible for this introduction, when she invited Thomas Joseph to join her one night, for a drink at my place, Heart and Soul. Though loudly opinionated and skinny as a rake, this young man in tight jeans, leather and cock a snook hat, was like a lightening flash of pent up passion and intensity which bursts out of his and Dave’s songs with a force that takes away your breath while wringing your soul.
Whether moody and introspective or sunny and whimsical these intensely melodic songs and their poignant , heartfelt lyrics each tell a tale and take you on a journey though personal experience and stories of life and lives.
Thomas’s voice has an extraordinarily heart rending timbre, layered, full of emotion, vulnerability and life beyond his years. It is difficult to listen to him without feeling that he is laying his soul bare, that beyond an outward toughness a deep sorrow lies.
Not knowing the person behind the musician I cannot claim this feeling is rooted in any type of reality, however, though knowing little of the history of the band I do seem to recall that Thomas and Dave were passionate enough about their music to leave job security behind, in order to concentrate on what they believe in, their songs.
Thomas takes lead vocal, Dave adding subtle and sympathetic harmony whilst their twin acoustic guitars interweave intimately and effortlessly in melodic duet. Other instruments fill in and beautifully colour the backdrop to these tales of life.
Having obtained a copy of their debut album, ‘Weary Nights’, their songs sing themselves round and round my head, springing a lump to my throat and a spring from my eyes, from the very first sparkling guitar duet, rending into heartbreak lyrics, intensely tender vocals, plunging deep pools of emotion, supported by the whisper of a gentle caress from a soul mate, wrenching life’s sorrows and tribulations from darkness where they hide, in that weary night, finding a way into the light of a new day, through hope, belief and understanding of our human condition.
I am loathe to quote lyrics for fear of mishearing but some, striking a certain resonance within my psyche , remain lodged in my brain, for example, the breezy yet wistful ‘Free Man Walking’ (‘.... like a leaf on an autumn breeze, people say is me....’,’...where the wind is blowing, I guess that’s where I am going....’,’....like a bird upon a wind flying through the sky....’,’...I have no direction of my own, I’m just drifting...’,’....like a rolling stone...’,’...like a stone that skims the waves...’), or the hauntingly beautiful but melancholy, ‘A Stranger to Myself’ (‘....thought on my mind. I won’t get to sleep tonight...’,’... guess life, guess life changed me....’,’....guess time, guess time aged me...’,’...I don’t , don’t know me no more...’,’...I’m a stranger to myself...’.’....look in the mirror, I see somebody else...’), ‘Iron Man’s’ stubborn pride plunged into hidden regret by slide guitar (‘.. lines on his face mark his every fall from grace… there is pain in those veins…I can see it in your eyes…it’s eating you inside…eyes don’t lie… they’re windows to the soul…) and the movingly poignant ‘Old Dog’, where guitar and viola (or is it violin?) exquisitely describe life’s journey along the dusty road into sunset (‘... my boots and jeans are fading, my face looks like it’s weathered many a storm...’,’...miles they mount behind me....’,’....days I thought would never end, just memories in my mind...’,’....I know and I know and I know, I ain’t got much time...’, ‘....it feels like I’m reaching, I’m reaching the end of the line....’).
This is a CD which sings my heart and soul and one which I will treasure forever.