Live at The Grace, London
An enigmatic singer/songwriter from Tupelo, Mississippi, John Murry works in a spare, literate style that blends ragged-edged indie rock with warmly melancholic folk. A veteran of the Memphis band scene of the early 2000s, Murry relocated to San Francisco in 2004 where he became active as a solo artist, working with American Music Club producer Tim Mooney. While still in Tennessee, he befriended reclusive folk icon Bob Frank and together the duo recorded the collaborative album World Without End in 2006. A critical success overseas via U.K. label Decor Records, the two musicians were unable to find a U.S. label so they founded their own, Evangeline Records, which released the album Stateside. Two more collaborative releases followed — 2006’s The Gunplay EP and 2009’s Brinkley, Arkansas, and Other Assorted Love Songs — before Murry finally delivered his own solo debut. A powerful and deeply personal effort about his struggle with substance abuse, 2012’s The Graceless Age was released in the U.K. by Bucketfull of Brains and in the U.S. by Evangeline. Widely lauded as one of the best albums of the year, it vaulted Murry into the critical if not commercial spotlight. Just as things seemed to be looking up, he — and the San Francisco music community at large — was dealt a blow when his good friend and the album’s producer, Tim Mooney, died in June 2012. Before long, his progress was further delayed by personal and professional fall-outs and financial woes. Following the collapse of his marriage, Murry left the U.S. and relocated to Kilkenny, Ireland where he ingrained himself in a tight-knit community of musicians and was soon granted residency. In 2015, a serendipitous invitation from Cowboy Junkies guitarist Michael Timmins arrived that soon brought Murry back to North America to record his follow-up in Toronto. Backed by the Junkies and former Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan, Murry and Timmins recorded A Short History of Decay in a scant five days. Released in 2017, the album also sparked a documentary about Murry bearing the same title.