John Murry: The Graceless Age – review


John Murry's would be a compelling story had he never made a record – grandson of William Faulkner, an addict who lost his wife and child and home, and almost his life, before cleaning up. And then you get to the record. The Graceless Age is extraordinary, a profound and moving meditation – the kind of album that answers questions you didn't realise you were asking. Musically, it's hardly unfamiliar – weeping Americana, backed with fuzzes of electric guitar and organ that slide in and out of focus, discomfiting and discombobulating – but expertly done. Lyrically, though, it's remarkable: brutal, frank and beautiful. Through stories that are partly his own – the centrepiece, Little Colored Balloons, ends with Murry's overdose ("I took an ambulance ride – they said I should've died, right there on 16th and Mission") – Murry invests the South with a necromantic realism, where decay is the one constant, but he somehow avoids self-pity or lachrymosity. I don't expect to hear a better album this year.


Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
John Murry – review

Murry's sadness embraces rage and beauty in music of tremendous warmth, writes Kate Mossman

Kate Mossman

09, May, 2013 @4:41 PM

The Civil Wars: Barton Hollow – review
After great success at home in the US, the debut by high-class Americana/AOR act Civil Wars gets a welcome UK release, writes Michael Hann

Michael Hann

01, Mar, 2012 @9:15 PM

Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale: Buddy & Jim – review
Americana celebrity Buddy Miller does a radio show with Jim Lauderdale, and now they've made a classy album together, writes Robin Denselow

Robin Denselow

10, Jan, 2013 @10:30 PM

Aoife O'Donovan: Fossils – review

Bluegrass and country singer Aoife O'Donovan sets her sights on the big league with her solo debut, writes Robin Denselow

Robin Denselow

01, Aug, 2013 @9:46 PM

Article image
Gwenifer Raymond: You Never Were Much of a Dancer review – fingerpicking good
The Welsh musician serves up a stew of bluegrass, blues and haunted Americana

Michael Hann

29, Jun, 2018 @8:30 AM

Article image
Bedouine: Bedouine review – one of the most charming albums of the year

Harriet Gibsone

29, Jun, 2017 @6:00 PM

Article image
Me and That Man: Songs of Love and Death review – melodramatic, sandblasted Americana

Dom Lawson

23, Mar, 2017 @9:45 PM

Article image
Hurray for the Riff Raff: The Navigator review – Latin Americana and flamethrower polemics

Caroline Sullivan

09, Mar, 2017 @9:00 PM

Article image
Old Crow Medicine Show: Remedy review – impressive Americana with raw energy and classy musicianship
The seven-piece North Carolina group's deliver new songs that sound like updated versions of old classics, writes Robin Denselow

Robin Denselow

03, Jul, 2014 @9:00 PM

Article image
Marlon Williams review – delicious, oddly uplifting misery
New Zealander’s eponymous album mixes folk traditionals, 60s pop and country with a delicious lightness of touch

Michael Hann

11, Feb, 2016 @9:00 PM