“Reason To Try”
Vision Wall Records
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Just for the record, Shaun Murphy doesn’t sing the blues, she doesn’t sing rock, she doesn’t sing soul, she doesn’t sing Gospel, she doesn’t sing country and she doesn’t get funky… she does ALL OF THAT, and more. As a matter of fact, after just saying that a crazy thought just ran through my head. Her versatility kind of brings to mind that Robert Klein “Every Record Ever Recorded” skit. It’s the one where he spoofs those TV record sales commercials by saying “if you act now, we will send you every record ever recorded” and then goes into a rant with a lengthy and hilarious list of examples. “That’s right,” he says, “we will send a tractor-trailer full of every record ever recorded, right to your door.” That said, if there was ever a person who could sing every one of those recordings, it would be Shaun Murphy..
Shaun Murphy’s latest release is titled “Reason To Try” and although she does sing most of the above-listed styles, she doesn’t sing every song ever recorded. She does, however, belt the hell out of fourteen diverse songs that include a handful of covers and a handful of new material written just for this project.
Musically, Shaun Murphy – on all lead and background vocals and tambourine – is joined by some of Nashville’s finest musicians. That very recognizable list of names includes: Kenne Cramer and Tommy Stillwell on lead guitars; Tom DelRossi on drums; John Marcus on bass; Kevin McKendree on piano and synthesizer; Eric Robert on B3 organ; and Miqui Gutierrez on saxophone.
On the opening track – “Hurt Me Good” (D. Burgess) – between Shaun’s soulful, Gospel style vocals; her ability to sing her own background vocals and sound like a small choir; and the hymnal vibe Kevin’s laying down on the B3 organ; you’re immediately taken straight to church. But just as your about to comfortably settle into a pew – BAM! – Tom and John start pounding out a vibrant rhythm; Tommy starts wailing on guitar; Eric and Kevin kick the keyboards up several notches and hot damn, mass just turned into a funk fest.
Every fan of Shaun’s has their favorite type of song they love hearing her sing and this fans favorite is slow, bluesy, soulful and emotional ballads. The kind where she just blows you away with her amazing note holding ability and takes you on a roller coaster with that limitless range of hers. I got a “Thang For You” (M. A. Barnette/J. Hinson) is just that song. That said, you just can’t beat the soul a saxophone gives a song like this and Miqui indeed put his soul and his heart into this one.
The first time I listened to the title track “Reason To Try” (D. Flowers), although there was so much more going on, Shaun’s voice and Kevin’s piano playing were so compelling that I was totally consumed by them. That said, the second listen broadened my pleasure but it was that third listen – the one where I stopped typing and sat back with the headphones on – that had me in awe. Now I need to correct myself and say these are not some of Nashville’s finest musicians, they’re some of music’s finest musicians.
Speaking of powerful performances, the next track is titled “Power Of Love” (A. Cleaveland/K. Greenberg) and with the help of that small choir of hers – as crazy as this may sound – she actually kicks it up a few notches on the vocals. Of the tracks mentioned thus far, this is the first that features Kenne Cramer working his magic on lead guitar and his monster performance is a testament to why Shaun uses him on all her releases.
Sounding snide, sarcastic and snarky – all characteristics required to be employed there – Shaun sounds quite proud of the first-rate work she does at her second job as a writer at the “Rumor Mill” (R. Gulley/D. Gulley/C. Kirby). Sadly, some know some people who actually do work there and as it’s said to be a dirty job, I disagree that somebody has to do it. Fun song on which Shaun’s having fun singing. This is the part of the review where I tell you that should you like to learn more about Shaun Murphy just go to www.shaunmurphyband.com – and I just did. That said, let me now say that visiting that website is not something you should do, it’s something you must do. Shaun’s bio: from her days performing on Broadway with Meat Loaf; to her days performing on stage with Muddy, B. B. and more; to touring and recording with the likes of Little Feat, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Bob Seger; is one of the most storied and interesting bios you’ll ever read.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © 2019
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient