Benjamin Adair Murphy
LET’S MAKE A KING
21st Century Subversive, Exciting and Very, Very Relevant Folk and Blues Protest Songs.
I wasn’t expecting anything like THIS!
Benjamin Adair Murphy is one of those artists that seems to flit around the world making music for an ever growing fan base without ever coming near to touching the mainstream; and that’s the mainstream’s loss!
YIKES x TWO!
Opening track Your Gun made my jaw drop the first time I played it a week ago. Phew, Adair doesn’t hold back on his Waitsian Rap about gun-control, or more poignantly ……. the lack of gun-control in the US of A.
Sitting here in the comfort of my Northern English home, I’m left wondering why no one else has written so powerfully on this subject so close to America’s heart.
Adair manages to address many other 21st Century ‘issues’ in a way that’s not always comfortable, but always accessible.
One Hundred Pills Per Person and The White Man Gets Things Done are exactly what you’d expect to hear from reading the titles; but add a band that sounds like it has been force fed Zappa and Beefheart 24/7 and you get real Grown Up Rock Music that will frighten your Granny!
I keep wanting to say Adair’s writing style is Poetic; but the more I listen the more I think he’s been influenced by Old School Hip-Hop …….. but co-opted it into the left of centre Blues and Rock fields.
Nothing is ever straight forward; even the slow and moody acoustic tracks Back Pocket Blues and Teach The Christians are multi-layered and down right emotional, and will be interpreted quite differently by each and everyone who hears them.
While never sounding like a parody, the Tom Waits ‘style’ of singing/talking comes across regularly here; and it is actually quite refreshing and brings out the nuances in Let’s Make a King and the stinging Alabama Goddam! like no other style could even dream of producing.
While 99.999% of music fans will never hear Same Kind of Fascist, I think it should be played on daytime radio across the Western World each and every hour for the next ten years.
It’s fair to say Woody Guthrie will be proud of young Mr.Murphy for daring to not just write and record this missive; but actually release it into the wild too.
Whenever I hear albums like this; and they are more common than you’d imagine …….. I always go back to the interview when Neil Young whinged and whined that no younger artists were writing protest songs any more; he obviously doesn’t get to hear the likes of Benjamin Adair Murphy when he sings the arse off U.S Custody, set to a stark yet melodic Native American melody and totally capturing the current zeitgeist.
If you have got your breath back, the only thing left is my Favourite Track, which is an odd moniker on an album as deep, dark and angry as this …….. but Stupid Followed Evil is a really special song; combining the best of everything here, from the Hip-Hop melody through Zappa and Waits but distilling the very soul of Woody Guthrie in such a contemporary manner that will have them dancing in the aisle while raising a clenched fist in the air!
In his accompanying letter Benjamin mentions his love of the Blues and how he keeps returning to it in his music. Well, that’s not always obvious; but that’s why I’ve had the album on heavy rotation this week ……… it is a Blues album at heart; but excitingly different and adventurous in many ways and never ever ‘obvious’, apart from the messages he tries to get across.