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A Short History Of Decay [VINYL]
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Vinyl, 14 Jul 2017
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John Murry was adopted at birth into the family of William Faulkner. Some have speculated that the Faulkner blood might also run in his veins, but that should be left for a Southern Gothic novel yet to be written (or perhaps re-written)..Raised in Tupelo, Mississippi, in the shadow of Elvis, his undiagnosed autism led to troubles at an early age which led to prescribed medication, which led to unprescribed medication which led to being institutionalised for addiction and mental health issues at a too young age. Eventually, discarded onto the streets of Memphis, he found music, which became the one constant positive force in his life. Memphis led to San Francisco and San Francisco led to heroin and heroin led to a near fatal overdose on the corner of 16th and Mission, so harrowingly memorialised in his song Little Coloured Balloons. Music again came to his rescue and led him to Tim Mooney (American Music Club) and the group of musicians that helped create his 2012 masterpiece "The Graceless Age". The album was hailed by MOJO magazine and received a 5 out of 5 rating, UNCUT called it a "masterpiece", both magazines included it in their Top 10 albums of the year; American Songwriter put it in their Top 5 of the year and The Guardian included it in their best of the year as well. The accolades rolled in and John toured the world. He entranced and devastated audiences with his raw, unfiltered live performances, and it looked like his trajectory was set, that music had won and would have the final word. And then Tim Mooney, John's mentor, his beacon, his bedrock, died suddenly and unexpectedly… and John's world fell back in to chaos. Over the next few years, John would lose the footing that he had struggled so hard to establish. He would lose his wife, his daughter, temporarily his freedom and ultimately his country. Somewhere along this volatile journey, John crossed paths with Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies . John had opened for the band at a show in Glasgow and Michael watched side-stage transfixed by John's performance. Over the next few years the two of them kept in touch, they talked about the music business, politics, books, but most of all they talked about music. And they talked about making an album together. Eventually John completed his descent and landed in Kilkenny, Ireland where he found some solid ground as part of a welcoming arts community. Michael then convinced him to travel to his Toronto studio where Michael put a band together consisting of brother Peter Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) on drums and Josh Finlayson (Skydiggers, Gord Downie, Lee Harvey Osmond) on bass. John brought along Cait O'Riordan (The Pogues, Elvis Costello) whom he had met in Ireland and who wanted to be a part of John's journey. The five of them put aside five days to record all bedtracks and overdubs, with the brief that they would let the songs dictate where the journey took them, spontaneity was the order of the week. Michael Timmins describes the sessions, "I felt that it was important that John got out of his own way and that we set up a situation where he would just play and sing and the rest of us would just react, no second guessing, just react and capture the moment. It was a very inspired and inspiring week of playing and recording. Very intense. And I think we captured the raw essence of John's writing and playing". A Short History Of Decay is an intensely personal document of an artist's fall from grace. It contains all the tragic elements of that unwritten Southern Gothic novel: the revelations of a man coming to terms with the personal shortcomings, the flaws and the perverse twists of fate that led him to the end of one journey and the beginning of another. LP has inner sleeve with lyrics and photo. Praise for John Murry's Last Album. THE GRACELESS AGE - 'A masterpiece' UNCUT 9/10, 'A work of genius' THE GUARDIAN 5/5, 'Intensely beautiful… Like Father John Misty,Mark Lanegan and Josh T Pearson rolled into one really broken dream' Q MAGAZINE 4/5, 'Completely Blows Your Mind' THE SUN 5/5, MOJO 5/5
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11 March 2018
Judging from some of the comments here, I was expecting the sonic equivalent of a Johnny Dowd album. "A Short History of Decay" is marvelous. The production is more spacious than on The Graceless Age, while delivering the same musical ingredients. I like it every bit as much, the ensemble interplay is more visceral. Highly recommended.
31 July 2017
It isn't The Graceless Age and how could it be? This album benefits from not trying to emulate its illustrious predecessor stylistically. Instead, recorded in less than a week, it exposes Murry's unique songs and style just as they are. The subject matter may appear downbeat but there's a wicked ironic sense of humour at play here too, and the sparse arrangements allow the songs plenty of breathing space. A couple of unexpected grunge rock tracks pop up amongst the acoustic ruminations and Murry's voice sounds like no one else except perhaps Scott Walker (although press reviews have referenced Tom Waits, Mark Lanegan, Nick Cave, Mark Linkous and about twenty others). It will take a couple of listens but soon your head will be buzzing with these fascinating melodies.
21 September 2017
The Graceless Age by John Murry rates in my top 20 of my all time favourites. What on earth went wrong on this one.
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