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Murder By Death
In Bocca Al Lupo
(self-released)
www.murderbydeath.com


Taking a little cue from Tom Waits and Grant Lee Phillips, Murder By Death takes a rock stance with a traditional folky southern feel. Mix in some Johnny Cash imagery and you pretty much know what I am listening to. Like the above mentioned artists MBD tells a story with its music. Tales of love and loss, mostly the latter, as the album takes on a dark foreboding aura.

A lot of the musical sound could be attributed to the cello mainstay, which is beautifully used, accenting here and being on the forefront there. Just behind that you have the smokey vocals that just reek of bourbon and heartache; all essential to creating that southern mystique of lore. Drums, guitar and bass further heighten the ambiance with their restraint. Drums in particular show varying levels of input as they drive fast songs, but readily yield to a backseat for the slower numbers.

Production accurately blends the individual pieces into a coherent amalgamation, especially considering classical stringed instruments take more time to get right in the mix. Driving this effort is J Robbins, always one of my favorites, who seems to be delving into new territory for him. Usually I could pick his production out of a line-up, but not so here. Just the fact that he worked something out of his area, and succeeded in forming a well conceived project speaks volumes to his personal growth as an artist.

My one nit with In Bocca Al Lupo is the unbalanced feel of the whole; the faster songs seem to be interspersed in the first half, leaving the second half slightly dreary. Now these are all good songs, mind you, it's just that if you have that many slow songs in a row they become monotonous. I feel like I've been there and done that one already. If that was fixed, you would have a truly proportioned record with good ups and downs.

There is a plethora of good material here that deserves to be heard, "Boy Decide", "Brother", "Sometimes The Line Walks You", and "Shiola" stick out in my mind as excellent pieces, but there is not one song I wouldn't recommend. So, if you like the aforementioned artists and their stylings, they you should definitely pick up MBD. Sounding so dark never sounded so good.

-bishop

Track listing:
1) Boy Decide
2) One More Notch
3) Dead Men And Sinners
4) Brother
5) Dynamite Mine
6) The Organ Grinder
7) Sometimes The Line Walks You
8) Raw Deal
9) The Big Sleep
10) Shiola
11) Steam Rising
12) The Devil Drives


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Mike Doughty



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