Shaun Murphy – Reason To Try
Vision Wall Records
What do Meatloaf, Eric Clapton, Little Feat and Bob Seger have in common? They all have produced and released music with Shaun Murphy. Meatloaf and Shaun made an album together, were signed to Motown Records at the same time and also did two plays together. Clapton and Shaun did an album together. Shaun fronted Little Feat for 15 years and produced lots of music with them. Shaun has been an integral part of Bob Segar’s recorded and live music. Heck, she also worked with , the Moody Blues, John Hiatt, and Bruce Hornsby on top of those folks. Shaun has been a huge part of the music scene for a long time and her solo career has also been an amazing one.
We blues fans get to most appreciate Shaun is in her fantastic solo work. Shaun and her band have played many a festival and gig that blues fans have been able to enjoy and she has graced the stage at our Blues Blast awards several times, including her double win in 2013 where she won Best Female Artist and Best Contemporary Album. She continues her superb solo career with this new album that I am sure will be a huge success.
Murphy’s band are Tom DelRossi on drums, John Marcus on bass, Eric Robert on keys and two fine guitar players in Kenne Cramer and Tommy Stillwell. Cramer and Stillwell swap lead on guitar and share the lead on three tracks, too. Miqui Gutierrez appears here on sax. Robert does all the B3 organ work and Kevin McKendree provides the piano and synthesizer. McKendree also produced and mixed the CD.
All the songs here were written for her and they are all fantastic. Shaun opens with a slick R&B cut entitled “Hurt Me Good,” written by Nashville based Daryl Burgess. This one’s got a slick and funky groove and a great guitar solo. Murphy shows her chops and delivers a fine performance with tons of feeling.
“Thang For You” follows, a pretty ballad with some some excellent sax work that adds to the sultry and sexy feeling of the cut. Next up is “Turn Me On,” a gritty blues rocker that Murphy nails. The guitar solo also evokes the feel of he song well along with the cool, driving beat. The tempo turns way down for “Reason to Try,” a slow blues with some very nice “churchy” organ work along with piano to add to the mix. Few singers can take you to church, the darker side of town or rock out as Murphy can- she is equally at ease in all styles and this one’s another winner.
“Dancing In The Sun” is a light and breezy cut with Murphy calling out to all of us to stop abusing, fighting, warring and such and get together and do what the song title says. “Can’t Blame Nobody But Me” is a jazzy and bluesy tune with Murphy once again emoting and testifying. It starts out slow and then moves into a slow but steady number about not recognizing that what’s going on in the relationship is her fault. Sax, piano and organ are again effective in support. “Love The Man” gives us some fuzzy guitar work and Shaun offers advice as to how to keep your man around. Murphy again sings with emotion and the boogie woogie piano and guitar make this one loads of fun.
“Don’t Come Crying To Me” is another sweet blues rock ballad with another short but sweet guitar solo. The title of “Road House Rockin'” says it all; a big, driving beat, guitar and organ wailing and Murphy rocking to the groove. This one is also a lot of fun and a great dance number. The following “Power Of Love” is an even more raucous and rocking cut. Powerful vocals by Shaun and her backup singers and a stinging solo on guitar make this one great. “Welcome to Bluesville” returns to a more ‘sedate” format with Murphy giving a cool performance on this one about being in and feeling the land of the blues. More nice guitar work and a restrained but pretty solo are featured.
“Rumor Mill” picks the pace back up as Murphy sings about something we all have experienced. The rumor mill spreading lies is something nasty and never meant to be helpful and Murphy grits out a other nice performance. Guitar and organ shine once again. “Someday” is another ballad, this one lamentful and full of feeling. The organ and guitar help set the mood with continued excellent work; the guitar solo was especially quite emotive. The CD concludes with “Same Old You” as Shaun sings about her man using the same ol’ moves, remarks, etc., as he remains what the title states. She clearly puts that man in his place and the band remains stalwart and strong finishing up the CD as they began. A final sweet solo of the guitar helps fill things out, too!
This is a superb album of 14 memorable cuts by Murphy and her band. Whether she is taking you to church, taking you to school or taking you out for some fun, she nails each and every performance here. Shaun’s got a lot of fine albums to her name; this one is really well done top to bottom, filled with emotion, great songs, outstanding music and her spot on vocals. This one is a winner and I am sure it will garner attention as it gets widely played – very highly recommended!