The name: Kevin Murphy (not to be confused with hundreds of other people called Kevin Murphy).
The deal: A singer-songwriter from Cork with Jeff Buckley-sized lungs, a knack for writing heavy-hearted songs and something of a potty mouth, Kevin Murphy is not hugely well known, except on Soundcloud, where his tracks have racked up listens in excess of 10,000.
He’s just released his debut album LoveHate (not to be confused with the RTÉ crime drama of the sort-of same name), a seven-song LP recorded in the UK with Belgian producer KONOBA, featuring the occasional cameo from Brighton singer Ellie Ford.
The sound: I have little to no interest in schmaltz, which means that I usually pass on high-drama acoustic melancholy, the kind of which Kevin Murphy is really terrific at creating. Of course, even bull-headed journalists like myself have souls, and mine was seriously shaken by ‘Your Version’, a solitary anti-love song, propelled forward by gushing harmonies.
I think my favourite thing about Murphy’s voice is that it doesn’t do too much of anything; there are flips and hums and whispers and trills, and the vocals often get layered up to astonishing effect, but it never sounds fussy or overdone. His lyrics, which are, at times, cripplingly tortured and intense, work in a similar way; lines like ‘This demon won’t fuck off…’ on ‘Demon’ take the formality out of the song’s emotion, without making light of it.
Elsewhere on the album, you’ll find haunting electric guitar (‘Pretty Love‘) and cinematic strings (‘It’s Too Late’, ‘Sweet Thing’), but Murphy’s dynamite delivery and laid-back groove are forever the star. I mean, just try to resist the falsetto sweep on ‘Your Heart Is A Circle’…
He says: “Starting to hate this place, I can only replace myself so long.” – ‘Demon’
I say: Clearly, Murphy’s songs are not jaunty walks in the park, but they’re also too pretty to pass up.
In a word: powerful.
What now? Listen to LoveHate here and join me in hoping that Murphy’s got an Irish tour in the works to promote it.
Like: Kevin Murphy on Facebook.