[Nameplate] Partly Cloudy ~ 72°F  
High: 72°F ~ Low: 49°F
Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Trio of music teachers put talents to good use

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jessie Murphy in the Woods
Think back to your grade school music class. Remember all those weird instruments the teacher had stored in the back of the room?

Sure, it was fun to play the autoharp or the bells or the pan pipes, but what were these instruments really used for? Nobody on MTV was playing them.

(I know. I'm dating myself by referencing a time when MTV actually played music.)

It turns out those were all for making music. You can even make pop music with it -- chamber pop, that is. "Eight Belles" by Jessie Murphy in the Woods includes guitar, keyboards, horns, woodwinds and all kinds of percussion on its nine tracks.

Should it be any surprise the trio is composed entirely of music teachers?

Jessie Murphy and sisters Marcia Wood and Amy Wood are New York City-based teachers who met at Columbia University in 2008. Murphy was already known for her vocals and bluesy guitar around the New York City scene.

With the Woods in tow, the sound is even richer, though. The three voices come together for wonderful, tight harmonies on songs such as "God Save Owen Wilson." The song also highlights one of the unique sounds on the album, as Marcia's pan pipes are featured prominently.

But this album is way more than a novelty project for uncommon instruments. The ladies present a collection of well-written, catchy and all-around good songs.

The second track, "Owen Wilson" jumps out on the first listen for the reasons already named, as well as its curious title. After a number of listens, it's unclear why Wilson or Pocahontas or Dylan Thomas, all of whom are mentioned, are picked out for salvation. But the words certainly get stuck in one's head, though.

The album's standout track, though, is "Tour de Force," with its mix of modern beats and old-timey instruments backing up Murphy's vocals. At moments, it almost dabbles in being dance music, which contrasts with the rest of the record.

On repeated listens, this track definitely rises to the top.

The title track will sound to gambling and horse racing aficionados as the name of the filly who came tantalizingly close to winning the 2008 Kentucky Derby. The story ended in tragedy, though, as Eight Belles fell after crossing the finish line, broke her leg and had to be euthanized on the spot.

The song chronicles the story of the race and reads something like a celebration of feminism and a tragedy at the same time. In spite of almost whimsical music behind her, Murphy pleads, "Please don't build a horse to run on legs like loaded guns."

Is the song a criticism of the culture of the sport or simply a retelling of a tragic story? It's hard to say.

So it goes with the nine tracks of this album. Murphy's lyrics draw you in, get you thinking. The questions don't always have answers, but that keeps the record on repeat, doesn't it?

My spin: B+

"Eight Belles" is an unexpected delight. Murphy and the Woods have put together a delightful album that would appear to only scratch the surface of their talents.

Anyone looking for downloads can look to "Tour de Force," the beautiful "Brilliant Sundays," "God Save Owen Wilson" and "New York City Lights."

They may not quit their day jobs anytime soon, but let's hope their nights and summer vacations continue to be filled with making this music.

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on bannergraphic.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

Thank you so much for the kind words about Jessie Murphy In The Woods. We'd like to extend the readers of Banner Graphic an exclusive free download of Mr Jernagan's favorite track.

Visit here http://my.jessiemurphyinthewoods.com/Ban... to get your free mp3.

Or visit www.jessiemurphyinthewoods.com to find out about "The Woodsies" and stream music from Eight Belles.

Your time and attention is so important to us. So pay attention class!

-- Posted by Rex Records on Thu, Apr 29, 2010, at 12:01 PM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: