"Another Sunset" by Caleb Murray
Today Caleb Murray releases his new single, "Another Sunset" a year & a half after his previous record, the ‘Stories From a Sunny Side' album which we reviewed in July 2019: just before his really well received performance on the Main Stage of what remains the most recent Godiva Festival.
During the intervening months, Caleb has certainly evolved his craft it would seem. "Another Sunset" (created like so much else currently) at home, although clearly linked to his previous work in terms of clarity & simplicity generating particular effect, however showcases a more processed sonic picture. In fact Caleb tells me that it is a conscious attempt to move his sound forwards without losing his roots. Necessarily, he could not assemble his band (George Morton on bass and Ben Painter on drums) for a recording session & so this is a wholly self written, performed, recorded & produced song: I imagine once circumstances allow & the band can reconvene, we shall see further movement in this direction & fuller arrangements.
What we get in the meantime with "Another Sunset" is a side of Caleb he occasionally reveals: possibly less often of late as he has gone more for upbeat tunes & narratives, and that is of the contemplative & reflective dreamer.
Accordingly, the track is a dreamscape format with hypnotic guitars meshing together, instrumental breaks to savour the words in and lyrics which are poetic in their ambition. Ideas of melancholy, regret & the inexorably passage of time weave together to produce a range of messages: some it would seem directed at a particular individual, yet flexible enough to appear to be talking to us all. Am I alone in perceiving that the song seems also to be recounting how day after day is passing at the moment as we get lost in time passing without the ability to address what we long to address? Possibly: but it doesn't really matter as all my opinion really goes to show perhaps is that Caleb has the ability to write lyrics which make different impressions on each listener: which is a hallmark of good, mature writing. Above all, the decision to offer us his vocals in the way he does on "Another Sunset" adds to the overall effect: they seem more detached & objective, sitting just outside the concrete world in one of thought & feeling and this in turn adds to the poignancy and to the sense that he's addressing us more is sadness than anger: a little of the tone of "Same Old Ends" from his album too maybe.
Roll on more like this.
'Stories From A Sunny Side' by Caleb Murray
I hope that you recall my review in "Hot Music Live" of Caleb Murray's ‘No Congregation' EP?
If you have listened to & downloaded "Hot Music Live Presents Volume One" (which I also hope that you have: if not the link to the free download is here: https://hotmusiclivepresents.bandcamp.com/album/hot-music-live-presents-volume-one) you will doubtlessly have enjoyed his "Portrait of You" from the aforementioned EP which he kindly let us use.
He is as previously mentioned, a great favourite on the local live circuit, not only locally but in his native Yorkshire & increasingly nationally. It is really good, though not a surprise, to report that he will be playing on the Main Stage at this year's Godiva Festival.
I am so pleased therefore to be able to review, ahead of its 4th July release, Caleb's first full studio album 'Stories From A Sunny Side'
I enjoyed it considerably from the very first play. He has a great knack for a tune with dynamic playing, ear catching words & an enthusiastic & compelling delivery, and you can hear how his writing has developed since that previous release. Generally he keeps arrangements as close as possible to his live sound, with tasteful supplements to add colour & distinction, but which however are not so vital that they can't be omitted when playing solo.
So let's begin with possibly the best link to that earlier record. "The Wisest Words" is sung by a folk troubadour, adding banjo & harmonica to his guitar: probably the closest in tone to "Portrait of You" and certainly as insanely catchy
"All The Cards" is classic Caleb territory: starting like the song of a cowboy singing as he crosses some vast arid Mexican desert, alone & full of regret and railing at fate, the arrangement builds somewhat but the focus is his voice throughout, mixed very prominently.
"Forever Dark" is another one with a foregrounded vocal, with perhaps the simplest arrangement : or the simplest sounding one given that additional instruments are hidden behind the guitar in the mix. A song of love with some spiritual overtones.
"I'm Too Warm Now" jangles along enjoyably and features a solo: rather unusually for the record. The imagery is all very nature focused & is probably a series of metaphors. Unless I haven't understood it properly. You might do better. It's a picture written in song this one though.
"The Breaths We Draw" is perhaps the most Dylanesque track on the album & tears along at a great lick with appropriate sneering & a thoroughly authentic guitar part. I loved it. A lot. It should be a live cracker.
"Heart To Climb" is however a more gentle one: perhaps the most so on the album , offering a positive message to match the music while "Same Old Ends" is a bit more subdued, tending on to a touch of world weariness strange in one so young. What can have gone wrong? I am not sure at all how autobiographical any of his songs are to be honest & I assume at least some, or parts thereof, to be sung in character.
"Long Way Down" is the epic track on the album offering us the Big Picture: the protagonist sounds much more optimistic than that of "All The Cards": maybe this would be one for audience singalongs?
I'm much looking forwards to hearing him live: as I say he is on the Godiva Main Stage Sunday 7th at 1215. He is in fact playing live a lot this summer (check his website for full details) but local dates include
3rd August Keresley Beer Festival
7th September Leamington Food & Drink Festival
I'll be checking him out live as much as possible starting this weekend: I advise you to do similarly.
"No Congregation EP" by Caleb Murray
I imagine many "Hot Music Live" readers have seen Caleb Murray play live over the past few years: maybe at one of his frequent open mic appearances or at the Godiva Festival if not one of his own gigs (either in Yorkshire or locally) or possibly on HillzFM radio.
He self describes as a "musician drawing influences from across the musical spectrum, at home most with folk and country music fused with modern elements" which I wouldn't disagree with: though like his songs, a simple statement of intent may simply be merely a starting point for his audience to explore his work & draw their own critical & emotional conclusions.
It is a pleasure to be able to review his recent EP "No Congregation" which is available on all the expected platforms & there might even be a few of the limited hard copy edition still available at the time of writing.
This four track EP opens with "Kick Away", a rather Americana style number which reminded me a little of Steve Forbert or early Steve Earle. Like the rest of Caleb's well evolved personal style, the song is sparsely arranged with just his voice & a couple of guitar parts which highlight both the quality of his singing & playing & let this well crafted song breathe while giving excellent scope for dynamic shifts within its structure to good effect.
"Mind Behind the Smile" shares a similar approach & arrangement though a marginally slower tempo: suitable for the melancholic feel of the lyrics and this aspect is emphasised by the harmonica passage.
The title track comes up next & again the tempo slows a little on this very contemplative & philosophical piece: possibly the darkest on the record.
EP closer "Portrait of You" offers the listener a banjo part, a harmonica & tambourine but this does not result in any denser an arrangement: all are deployed sensitively to complement the vocal & each drops in & out as required: otherwise the emphasis is still on the quality of writing & delivery to do the central job on conveying the emotional message. This is perhaps the one most traditional love song on the release & for those seeking an entry point to Caleb's music, this might be the one.
This is a brave & confident set: this artist clearly knows what he wants to say & how best to say it & it's greatly to his credit that he sticks to his principles with keeping arrangements & production simple & direct, letting space into the tracks & letting them impact upon us. He speaks his mind & lays his soul bare. He deserves our respect.