John Murry’s life could have been a Southern tragedy penned by his second cousin William Faulkner. An addict who lost his wife. child, home and before cleaning up, almost his life. These harrowing experiences are reflected back darkly, but not bleakly, in “The Graceless Age.”
Murry’s brand of fuzzed-out pop-Americana take you through uncomfortable landscapes while not pushing to alienation. His emotional warble is reminiscent of Jay Farrar and Bruce Cockburn and it fits around the songs perfectly. The bittersweet kaleidoscope aesthetic Murry conjures recalls Elliot Smith’s introspective dark pop.
“California” is a menacing psychedelic ditty that that is hapless and hopeless as he tries to forget his ex in the city that won’t let him do it as sweet melody swirls with tense percussion and guitars. “Little Colored Balloons” recalls his near overdose “Off of 16th and Mission, i took an ambulance ride, they said I have died” as female backgrounds and piano and organ swell around his passionate build.
“Southern Sky” swings out with a xylophone (again, fuzzily) to tell a take of redemption through rebirth and renewal. “Things We Lost In The Fire,” starts simple enough with acoustic guitar and pedal steel to then crescendo into a pixies wave of wailing crunch guitar. .
The last words on The Graceless Age, sung in a dreamy falsetto, are “Maybe someday, some way.” It’s the perfect closing moment, as the guy who has suffered so much throughout the album drags himself out of the gutter to look to the stars. John Murry’s past may not be far behind, but his future as a songwriter and artist of major stature and authority is right now.
This is not an easy records, but it’s one Murry had to make and holds the characteristics of stark inevitability. this is the sound of a souls purged.
‘The Graceless Age’ might have saved Murry’s life. Is there any greater testament to music than that?