Special to The Record
The release of a new recording is a joyous occasion for a musician even when it’s following 10 or 11 earlier ones.
Accordingly, Mary Murphy promises “loads of frivolity” at the CD release party for Lucy’s Fling on Nov. 4 at the Little Red Church in Comox.
The Comox Valley-based singer-songwriter says she tried a different approach for her latest release, something similar to what used to be called a concept album.
“In the past, I have taken traditional tunes, like melodies, and I’ve written lyrics for them. This CD is unique.”
Her new CD, the Irish native explains in an interview, includes some traditional tunes as well as traditional melodies for which Murphy has written lyrics with a specific character in mind.
“Lucy is the character, although the lyrics are written from a man’s perspective,” she discloses during a chat at her favourite local coffeeshop. “Several songs have Lucy’s name in it … the story is all about Lucy and Liam” from his point of view.
Writing her novel, The Emerald Diaries, gave her experience writing from a male perspective.
“I’ve done it before in other songs. I like going into the male side. I find it interesting,” she states, adding that she doesn’t presume to understand exactly what it feels like to be a man.
Another of Murphy’s experiments on the CD was singing one of the songs in Scottish, rather than Irish, Gaelic. A woman in Campbell River helped Murphy navigate the variances between the two similar, yet different versions of the same tongue.
Lucy’s Fling was recorded, mixed and produced by Murphy’s husband Paul Keim at their Dove Creek Studio, although local musician Jeff Drummond helped with the guitar parts.
“Paul has mixed this CD so beautifully,” Murphy praises. “He just sees into the heart of a song and makes it shine.”
Singing and playing whistles, Murphy was supported by Keim on guitars, Jordie Robinson on cello and Martin Nolan on Uilleann pipes. Nolan played live with Murphy, Keim and Will Millar at Filberg Park during this year’s shellfish festival.
The recording process, Murphy recalls, was “just smooth as silk.”
She started with a “bare-bones” approach to make it easier to play live, but surrendered to her love of “bright, lush harmony sounds. That’s the direction we went.”
That approach is obvious right from the first few seconds of sprightly opening track Lucy’s Fling/Conaic mé as Murphy’s haunting multi-tracked voice weaves intricately with itself. Listening to it, you can easily visualize a young Irish lass step-dancing so lightly her feet barely touch the ground.
Nolan’s expert Irish piping and Keim’s inspired playing draw you in and after a few minutes, the tracks seem to run together as the tale of Lucy and Liam unfolds. Cellist Robinson, a referral from Cumberland musician-producer Corwin Fox, provides a rich underpinning.
To bring the new CD to life at the CD release party, Murphy has enlisted guest vocalist Sue Medley, “which I’m really excited about.
“We come from such dissimilar musical backgrounds, but we have an emotional connection with each other and our voices … just work together.”
Robinson, Keim and Murphy will supply the rest of the sound Nov. 4 at the Little Red Church.
The hall will be decorated in Murphy’s colourful style. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Gift basket draws will happen for people with pre-purchased tickets. Costing $15 in advance and $20 at the door, they’re available at Long and McQuade and Rosewood Fitness in Courtenay, Blue Heron Books in Comox and the Music Plant in Campbell River. They’re also available online at marymurphy.ca/mary-as-musician.
Mark Allan is a Comox Valley freelance writer.