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.
‘Weary Nights’ is available to buy from Zavvi (formally Virgin Megastore) and is soon to be on CD Baby.
Graham Holland is the owner and editor of the Liverpool Acoustic website, and runs Liverpool Acoustic’s award-winning live music events with local musician Stuart Todd. In real life he’s a Web Development Officer, has been producing podcasts on a regular basis since July 2006, and runs a number of websites for other organisations. He lives in Wavertree with his husband and their cat Xiao Hei.