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Friday 27th January 2017 at Aces & Eights »
John was 15 when his adoptive parents – faded aristocracy from the US deep south – realised he wasn't going to live up to their expectations. There would be no Ivy League education. No living the life of the gentleman from a once-grand family now forced into academia or the trades because John Murry wanted to be a rock'n'roll guitar player.
So John's parents did something rarely recommended in the parenting books. They checked him into rehab – this kid who'd "smoked pot about three times and been drunk maybe four or five" – to put the fear of God into him. "But God doesn't scare people," Murry says. "Not the real one."
But what does he sound like I hear those unfortunate enough not to have heard him ask? Well the traditional approach of comparing an artist to others from the past simply does not work with Murry. He genuinely sounds like no one but himself. His voice uncannily seems to avoid most rock and roll inflections and can vary from gentle croon to an intimidating primal bark... His legendary performance at 'End Of The Road Festival in 2013 saw a good third of the audience in tears and David Byrne made his way backstage to praise the intensity of the performance. The wild eyes, the jerking limbs, the raging electric guitar interludes, all make for a unique and thrilling experience.
His life story pretty much encapsulates his music and set the scene for John's critically and commercially successful album
'The Graceless Age' from 2013; Gritty, emotive, ravaged but stronger for it and enabled by redemption.
So let's keep it basic and just call it soul music in that it's a soul laid bare and let's describe it simply as true folk music in that folk i.e. people seem to relate to it on so many levels.
There's a righteous anger that burns inside John Murry, a steady fire that draws folks near, warms them and perhaps even singes their fingers but that way they never forget.
Like a baptism by fire it's what remains when everything else is washed away, something Murry understands in palpable ways after wandering for years in drugs and darkness, a man who understands the gift of second chances and true contrition.
For sure there are still myriad places to stumble but Murry makes these prospects seem less daunting and enables one to examine empathy, compassion and failings whilst walking ever closer towards the light.
So after a silence, another long period seemingly in the wilderness, Mississippi to California to Ireland relocations and relationships old and new John comes back with a masterpiece of an EP ironically titled 'John Murry Is Dead' and recent live shows of incredible intensity and formidable songsmithery; all living proof that there is always light at the end of every tunnel and further cements Murry's reputation as 'The world’s last living honest songwriter'.