‘Attic Heat’ is a music migration

  • Keene musician Jim Murphy has released a new album, Attic Heat. Courtesy photo—

  • Attic Heat by Jim Murphy. Courtesy photo—

Published: 2/21/2020 4:37:14 PM
Modified: 2/21/2020 4:37:00 PM

“Attic Heat”, the latest album by Keene-based vocalist/multi-instrumentalist, Jim Murphy, is up and running.

The collection of 12 songs on Murphy’s self-produced release is a culmination of his songwriting over the past five years and is somewhat of a migration from his heavily blues-inflenced sound.

An aficionado of many types of music throughout his life, blues took a front seat – particularly the country blues of such artists of John Lee Hooker and the Chicago-style blues of the likes of B.B. King.

He formed his band, Murphy’s Blues, in 2004, performing at clubs, hotels, festivals and other venues. He released his first album of original songs, “Jump and Shout,” in 2014.

Over the past several years he honed his songwriting abilities, during which time he attended a series of writing workshops with vocalist/percussionist Vinx De’Jon Parrette – who has recorded and toured with such artists as Stevie Wonder, Sting and Sheryl Crow. At the workshops he met and worked with many semi-professional and professional musicians and songwriters from all over North America.

Murphy’s latest offering has a fuller sound with a horn section, backup vocals and conga drums augmenting the foundation of guitar, bass, keyboards and percussion. Murphy himself plays all guitar on the album along with bass, organ and harmonica.

Murphy worked with local musicians and engineers – the album was recorded and mixed by Ben Rogers at Loud Sun Studio in Jaffrey and mastered by Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios in western Massachusetts.

He took his time in arranging the album.

“I wanted just the right mix of musicians,” he said.

While “Attic Heat” stays very true to Murphy’s blues roots (“I’m Gonna Run” is one track that’s pure blues), it incorporates elements of several different genres – rock, soul, R&B, funk and jazz are on the list of styles that give “Attic Heat” its largely swing-y, danceable vibe.

The album’s cover art, which Murphy (also a painter of large Impressionist-style landscapes) drew himself and looks like a dream illustrated on the page of a children’s book, is the perfect representation of the fun and eclectic songs within.

Instrumentation is key to the album’s sound. In titles like “Dancing to Your Heart,” a sweet and earnest love song conjuring shades of the Motown era, Anders Burrow’s trumpet is the star along with dreamy backup vocals by Jessica Gelter.

Backup vocals add a complex layer throughout the album to Murphy’s voice, which has a rambling, storyteller cadence in the spirit of Lou Reed or Bob Dylan.

The baritone saxophone stylings of Don Davis shape the sound of such tunes as “I Feel So Good” and Zydeco Blues,” and his tenor sax infuses the soundscape of “Cobalt Blue” with longing. The song, which inspired one of Murphy’s paintings, channels the moody atmosphere of an Elvis Costello ballad.

In addition, “Attic Heat” features Ben Perez on hand percussion and Jen Spaziani on drums.

“It was a joyful experience, the process of having the musicians in the studio,” said Murphy, who worked with each individually. “It’s all come together.”

“Attic Heat” is available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Music, Spotify, bandcamp and several other music streaming services; or you may purchase a CD by contacting Murphy at murphyarts@gmail.

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