Violinist • Composer • Band Leader

Sovereign Album

“SOVEREIGN is one of those special albums that does not come around very often. Music lovers of all kinds are sure to find something to love in Murphy’s work.”
- Taylor Denton, Indie Band Guru

Inspired to produce music in spite of the pandemic lockdown, American singer/songwriter/violinist/mandolinist Chris Murphy invited more than 30 guest musicians near and far to collaborate on this unique mixed-genre recording. After 36 years of professional music-making (20+ albums and 500+ songs), Murphy has traveled through diverse music landscapes meeting great talents, each with a story to tell. “There is something so unique and inspiring that happens when creating music with all these amazing musicians.” The album features some of his longtime collaborators in Los Angeles, Nate LaPointe(Cubensis, Bobby Womack), Hal Cragin (Iggy Pop, Rufus Wainwright), Andreas Geck (Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera), and Mike Jerome(Richard Thompson, Better Than Ezra), Doug Pettibone (Jewel, Lucinda Williams) along with other legendary musicians: Steve Wickham (The Waterboys), Tim O’Brien(Int’l Bluegrass Music Award, 2x Grammy Award Winner), musicians from Lunasa (Trevor Hutchinson, Ed Boyd, Kevin Crawford, Colin Farrell, Cillian Vallely), Bruce Molsky,  Stephen Hodges (Tom Waits),  Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello), Wally Ingram (David Lindley), Mike Watt (fIREHOSE), Walfredo Reyes, Jr (Santana), jazz recording artist Bob Sheppard, select artists from Harmony Glen and The Jolly Gents from Friendly Folk Records, and more. SOVEREIGN is Murphy’s debut album on the Friendly Folk Records label in The Netherlands.

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SOVEREIGN
music and lyrics by Chris Murphy

Featured Reviews

His roots were in Italy and Ireland, but producer, songwriter, singer and especially violinist-fiddler Chris Murphy has been operating for three decades from New York, where he was originally mainly active in the world of bluegrass music, but soon moved in the direction of Americana. and folk. He passed by 'Rootstime' a number of times in the past with albums he produced by other artists, with records by others on which he played on fiddle...

His roots were in Italy and Ireland, but producer, songwriter, singer and especially violinist-fiddler Chris Murphy has been operating for three decades from New York, where he was originally mainly active in the world of bluegrass music, but soon moved in the direction of Americana. and folk. He passed by 'Rootstime' a number of times in the past with albums he produced by other artists, with records by others on which he played on fiddle, but also with his own solo albums "Surface To Air" and "The Tinker's Dream" from 2016 and the live album “Hard Bargain: Live/Solo” released in the warm summer of 2017.

'Wysiwyg' or 'what you see is what you get' is therefore a principle that can be used for the records of this American artist. This also applies to his most recent release with the album “Sovereign” on which he has collected thirteen new self-composed songs. Chris Murphy himself played violin, mandolin and guitar on the recording at Hayloft Studios in Los Angeles, California.

In the list of instrumentalists who assisted him, we see some well-known names such as Doug Pettibone on electric guitar, Walfredo Reyes Jr., who is known from his collaboration with Lucinda Williams. from Cuba on percussion, Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello's backing band on drums, Dana Colley from 'Morphine' on saxophone, Jenny Conlee from 'The Decemberists' on accordion, Sjoerd van Ravenwavej on banjo and bluegrass mandolin virtuoso Tim O. Brien, in addition another whole series of thirty American musicians in all.

Most of the songs on “Sovereign” were composed during the extended lockdown period due to the corona pandemic. Chris Murphy, however, wanted to keep the general tenor of this new record positive and hopeful and he does so here in an uptempo song like “Till The World Lifts Its Head Again”, the single that you can listen to on the accompanying video. But the opening track “Halfway Around The World”, “Never The Same” and the cheerful sounding “Your Guess Is As Good As Mine” with Jenny Conlee on accordion also have such an optimistic message.

We would like to mention our favorite tracks from the list of thirteen songs: “Bad Situation”, the jazzy “Done With Diane” on which Bob Sheppard plays the clarinet beautifully, the rocking “Wind In My Eye” and the Latin rhythms performed dance number “Never The Same” with Walfredo Reyes Jr. on percussion in a prominent role. As on most of his previous albums, there are again some fully instrumental tracks on “Sovereign” such as the 7-minute album title track itself, but also on “Pear Blossom” and closing track “Hazel Creek” there is no singer to be found. 'Craftsmanship is mastery' goes the old saying and we can only close here with the mention that this Chris Murphy is a master and a craftsman on his instruments.

Opening with the joyful band arrangement of Halfway Around the World, this latest album from the creative muse of Chris Murphy delivers a strong statement of intent. Recorded during lockdown, it’s as if Murphy set out with one central message in mind; focus on the positive and everything else will follow...

Chris Murphy Sovereign Friendly Folk

Opening with the joyful band arrangement of Halfway Around the World, this latest album from the creative muse of Chris Murphy delivers a strong statement of intent. Recorded during lockdown, it’s as if Murphy set out with one central message in mind; focus on the positive and everything else will follow.

Bad Situation is another song that highlights this message of making the best of the straitened circumstances that present themselves at various points in our lives; the violin and guitar elevating the song arrangement and colouring the rhythm. The sound is celebratory and even with tracks like Boxed In, the message is one of ‘get myself sorted out,’ - perhaps a striking theme for these Covid times?

The assembled musicians on the project are many, and clocking up at thirty-plus, mean that there were often remote recording challenges. Of the guests, the quality of Doug Pettibone on guitar(Lucinda Williams, Jewel) appears on eight songs and Hal Cragin (Iggy Pop, Rufus Wainwright) plays bass on seven of the thirteen tracks included. The title track is an instrumental, with deep Irish music influences, which includes the musicians from Lunasa (Trevor Hutchinson, Ed Boyd, Kevin Crawford, Colin Farrell, Cillian Vallely). Also included is Walfredo Reyes, Jr. (Santana) on percussion for a really inspiring tune. Another instrumental, Pear Blossom, includes banjo from Bruce Molsky, acoustic bass from Trevor Hutchinson and Murphy, again showcasing his wonderful runs on violin. It’s all quite addictive and joyous in the delivery and the mood generated.

Done With Diane is a light jazz arrangement that flows along on a great melody, and the Bossa Nova swing of Never the Same is another fine example of the range of influences on offer; Luca Pino excelling on guitar and Walfredo Reyes Jr. adding superb percussion. The violin and mandolin skills of Murphy are once more highlighted on the song, Till the World Lifts Its Head Again, which looks forward to better days and a return to optimism. Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello), plays drums on four tracks, including the spoken word, Wind In My Eye, a tale of chance and romance on the road for two lonely souls. Three Feet Deep introduces saxophone from Dana Colley and atmospheric bass, courtesy of Mike Watt ((fIREHOSE, The Minutemen) with Doug Pettibone supplying edgy guitar lines.

Tim O’Brien appears on Your Guess Is As Good As Mine, along with Jenee Conlee on accordion, and the easy Country groove is a relaxing wind down as the final song, Hazel Creek, brings it all together with a final instrumental jaunt; Murphy on guitar and mandolin and Hal Cragin on resonant bass. The album is filled with bright, happy sounds and some exemplary musicianship, with Murphy producing and writing all the songs. It ranks as a high point in the varied career of this talented and genre-fluid visionary musician and composer.

Review by Paul McGee

Shows and Information

Chris Murphy's solo show or band performances feature a variety music that may include: Blues, Bluegrass, Folk, Country Rock, Gypsy, Celtic,
Ambient Post-Rock, Indie rock, Americana, and other World Music influences depending on the venue.
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Chris Murphy on the road “Have Violin Will Travel”

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New Videos

Till The World Lifts Its Head Again

Halfway Around the World