The latest album from Gerry Murphy is quite an eclectic mix. Ranging from Cajun flavour on track one to ballads and blues. There are some with a studio influence feel and others that feel stripped bare but don’t suffer for it! In his songwriting he takes people he has met and places he has been as subjects for his songs. Gerry has done a number of things during his career; he is fluent in Italian and when he’s not singing he works as an educator, running a well attended song writing course at University of Liverpool.
The album Crescent City Daze takes its name from the original nickname for New Orleans after the crescent shaped beach. The influence of New Orleans permeates a good few of the songs. The first song Roulez Les Bentemps can be paraphrased as ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ and with this album they do. The second is autobiographical, about how he used to listen to the radio while doing his home work but on low so his mother wouldn’t hear. He would listen to Radio Luxenbourg and the Voice of America. Gerry says he was born too late to be a pop writer like Randy Newman and Neil Diamond. I think he comes a way towards that with ‘Voice of America’. The track ‘Blaze of Glory’ could be written about any number of aspiring artists who burn out or die as a result of drugs or alcohol. Who it’s actually about will have to wait until I catch up to him at one of his gigs.
Gerry has written two original songs whose titles at first glance look familiar. In Irene Goodnight you can see the Ledbelly lyrics of the original 1886 Gussie L Davis song ‘Goodnight Irene’ with some additions from Gerry’s pen put to good effect. The other is the original song The Shores of Ponchartrain. While many of us will be familiar with the Planxty or Paul Brady song The Lakes of Ponchartrain, Gerry’s ‘Shores’ tells the tale of why an Irishman would be there and how many of them died building the canal to the lake of Ponchartrain. ‘Rock It Up’ borrows a little from ‘Rip It Up’ by R. Blackwell and Joe Marascalco which was recorded by Bill Haley and again by Little Richard.
There is a niggle but it doesn’t take away from what I feel is a very well rounded and extremely good album. The use of an egg shaker on one of the stripped back songs ‘If You Want Me’ gives the impression of a boy in his bedroom with just the crickets for company. Well it would if you could hear the egg shaker. I could only just pick them up on headphones , although it might just be my stereo. Gerry’s guitar playing throughout is professional no matter which style he is playing at the time. The lyrics leave you in no doubt that he is a seasoned songwriter and storyteller and takes you with him on this visit to the Crescent City.
I enjoyed this album, and with very little reservation this will be staying on my iPod for a good while to come.
The album Crescent City Daze can be bought directly from Gerry Murphy or from Probe Records in town, as well as from Gerry’s website which will be up shortly.
We’d like to make it clear that the song The Shores of Ponchartrain is an original song (melody and lyrics) and is not connected in any way to the song The Lakes of Ponchartrain. Also, working within the traditions of folk and traditional music, Irene Goodnight is a re-working of the Ledbelly song Goodnight Irene which was itself a re-working of an earlier song with added lyrics.