Follow Us on Twitter

Thea Gilmore – Murphy’s Heart

Thea Gilmore, Murphy's Heart

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

THEA Gilmore has variously been described as “the best British songwriter of the past 10 years” and “the best wordsmith of her generation”. She can also count
Bruce Springsteen and Martha Wainwright among her fans.

Alas, acclaim has not so far helped Gilmore to enjoy the type of prolific record sales her work deserves. But that looks set to change with her tenth album, Murphy’s Heart… a sure-fire contender for one of the albums of the year.

Smart, honest, playful and diverse, the album is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish, encompassing folk, breezy pop, balladry, South American influences and more.

Gilmore’s voice has long been one to treasure, and a perfect accompaniment to her observant lyrics. On Murphy’s Heart it all comes backed with her most universally accessible set of songs to date.

Former single You’re The Radio exemplifies Gilmore’s more confident approach and is, by her own admission, her opportunity to become a ‘bright, breezy, happy person for a few minutes’. It succeeds in putting you in a good mood thanks to its perfect blend of melody and vocal harmonising.

But pick out almost any track on the album and there’s merit to be found. This Town unfolds amid some fine country-rock guitar licks and a feisty opening line: “Hello my little train wreck, I’m your worst fear.” It’s a memorable starting point that sets a fine tempo.

God’s Got Nothing On You is a fine piece of folk rock to follow up, with a memorable back-beat, some excellent melodies and a brilliant chorus, which elevates Gilmore’s vocals to a supremely satisfying high tone.

Due South drops in some kooky instrumentation early on, before featuring one of the more haunted vocals on the LP, and a chorus that moves you to reflect on its themes of loss and missed opportunity. The subtlety of the violins is also to be savoured.

Picking up the pace, however, Gilmore comes over slightly Sheryl Crowe on the vibrant Love’s The Greatest Instrument, shifting vocal tones to soothing effect but finding a more gritty vibe, before the sombre, reflective Automatic Blue intelligently and non-judgmentally deals with a friend of Gilmore’s who met the love of his life some years after getting married and having children to someone else.

Coffee & Roses is a brilliantly dusky offering that has a nice bluesy vibe attached to it, which comes in stark contrast to the open breeziness of You’re The Radio or the flirty playfulness of the sexually charged Teach Me To Be Bad – the type of song that could be auditioning for an opening berth on True Blood!

Elsewhere, the piano-led How The Love Gets In is a tender, beautifully composed and delivered reflection on the little moments that allow love and happiness to enrich our lives, while Mexico touches on parenthood and drops in a vaguely flamenco vibe in its lush guitar-work and percussion.

Wondrous Thing, the final track, maintains the South American vibe and parental theme to bring the album to a doozy of a close, complete with a belated horn accompaniment.

It’s no small compliment to suggest that the journey Gilmore takes the listener on is one of the most enriching of the year: we really can’t praise Murphy’s Heart highly enough.

Download picks: Just about every song!

Track listing:

  1. This Town
  2. God’s Got Nothing On You
  3. Due South
  4. Love’s The Greatest Instrument
  5. Automatic Blue
  6. You’re The Radio
  7. Teach Me To Be Bad
  8. Not Alone
  9. How The Love Gets In
  10. Mexico
  11. Wondrous Thing