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PETE MURRAY
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Pete Murray
Anyone who has seen Pete Murray perform already knows what the rest of the country is about to discover when they hear his extraordinary debut album, Feeler. Songs and singers as strong and individual as this only come along rarely, but the first thing that grips the attention is the warm, dark-honey texture of the voice. Even as a soulful whisper it conveys power, conviction, grace, all the cuts and bruises of a life fully lived. When he lets rip, the emotion crackles like a storm.

The voice is the perfect instrument to deliver his songs, which range from something as simple and evocative as ‘Freedom’, just Murray’s hypnotic acoustic guitar with the voice soaring above, to pulsing rockers like ‘Lines’, with its jagged electric guitars and deliriously catchy chorus. Murray was a late starter in music but almost as soon as he picked up a guitar he was writing songs that demanded attention. He knew exactly how he wanted them to sound when he went to work on the album with one of Australia’s leading producers, Paul McKercher. The idea was always to keep it as stripped back as we could, just to keep it as warm as possible and let the words and the vocals tell the story, Murray says. The records I love by people like Nick Drake, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, they are built to last. I wanted this to be an album like that, something you can pull out in 30 years and still hear the feeling in it, rather than something that’s dated by the musical fashions of the day. Mission accomplished then. The title tune is a slow-burning roots rock groove. It builds from earthy acoustic guitar and drums with funky electric piano and Hammond organ to deliver an anthemic rush. Classic rock’n’roll sounds lay the foundation throughout, whether it’s the voice with an acoustic guitar or the intricate, understated interplay of tracks like ‘Bail Me Out’. Take a listen to the show-stopping ‘So Beautiful’, a hymn to a lost lover now moving in a different circle, a vocal performance full of lingering regret, pain, anger, the bitter and the sweet. Like all his lyrics, these are honest, heartfelt. You never think for a moment he is making this stuff up, which is why so many people identify so strongly with Murray’s tunes. ‘So Beautiful’ was one of the songs that first alerted producer McKercher to Murray’s special talents, playing a tape of the song over and over again, entranced by its impact. I think what sets him apart from a lot of other singers is that he knows the most important thing is the emotional contact of what the song is about, McKercher says, He leapfrogs over all the technical distractions that people might have in the studio and goes straight for the message. That’s a wonderful gift. It was one of the most enjoyable sessions I’ve ever done. Usually there’s some ego when people are recording but everyone who was there knew what we had to do, which was to provide a frame for these great songs and this great voice. With the arrival of Feeler, it’s clear Murray is that rare bird, an original who can’t be tied to any category except to say these are timeless songs, executed with vision and clarity, delivered with tenderness and passion and brilliantly sung.



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