Damien Murphy is an artist from Burbank, California who recently released an EP entitled Royal Pain. The EP contains six songs all of which were home recorded. As an engineer myself I thought the way he treated the album worked really well for the music. It’s one of the better home recordings I have heard this year.
His music is hard to pinpoint. It often felt like an expansion on folk songs. I was reminded of Elliott Smith at times especially in regards to the vocals which were melancholy and intimate. It was definitely the most integral part of the music and I really enjoyed his vocal approach,
“Prior to the Tragedy” is the opener and shows some of its strengths. It starts with vocals and guitar and it sounds fantastic. I loved the way the build seems to get more hopeful as it progresses. There are also beautiful lyrics which are poetic yet not too ambiguous. Murphy sings, “All of the dreadful things / Behind these melodies / Cannot convince me I’ve got a head to lose.”
Up next is “Dwell” which has more scope than the first song. The music goes in a lot of directions dynamically and drums are introduced into the song. There is a beautiful balance between hope and melancholy to me. Some parts soar, others are more subdued and it just ends up being a fantastic song.
“Snow Angels” was the song where Elliott Smith comparisons seem undeniable. That being said the song goes in different directions. He experiments with vocal effects and it pays off in great ways.
“Just Stay Where You Are” is almost a mix of pop and folk. It certainly felt like the most single worthy song to my ears. I thought “Losing Control” was another one in the win column. The song mixes melancholy with a more haunting atmosphere. The closer “Destiny Deal Me In” felt like the light at the end of the tunnel from a hard journey.
Murphy’s an exceptional songwriter and singer. There’s no other way to put it then he has “it.” Sadness is such a hard emotion to pull off properly but this is a case where it’s done to near perfection. Highly recommended
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