February 2000

by Johnny Black

Debut album from zesty but atypical Austin, Texas singer-songwriter

Darin Murphy is the brother of acclaimed country rocker Trish Murphy, but having played on the Cotton Mather album, he obviously leans toward the left field. The obvious reference points on this outing are Beatle-ish guitars, sometimes Dylanesque lyrics, and angsty vocals pitched somewhere between David Byrne and Andy Partridge, but Murphy has enough identity of his own to make the listening experience very satisfying. He explores relationships with a detached logic and surgical precision that could make him a difficult boyfriend, but his melodic cartwheeling arrangements sweeten even the bitterest pills, transforming his self-ascribed dissections into compellingly hummable cameos of lovers trapped in a loveless world.