Human Writes - Murray McLauchlan Album Review
Having thumbed through Scots-Canadian singer-songwriter McLauchlan's extensive and experienced biography, it's easy to surmise that Murray is yet another country-artist the UK need not bother with. He can't be any good, right? Wrong - while we've become a nation of celebrity-coddling philistines, we've, OK, some of us (OK, some of YOU) have forgotten about the truest arts-and-craftsmen of the English language and musical landscapes. So then - ladies and gentlemen, after 40 years of performances and releases, meet JUNO Award-winning Murray McLauchlan.
This man has been going so long that he issued his first Greatest Hits collection back in 1978. Almost all of his catalogue has appeared on leading roots and Americana imprint, True North, with a few select releases turning up via EMI and a few decent hits during the '70s that included "Farmer's Song" and a number 1 smash, "Down By The Henry Moore". The '70s country-circuit, frequented by the likes of Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson, made good use of some of McLauchlan's compositions including "Child's Song", a pre-release tune from 'way back'.
For "Human Writes", his 25th (or something like it) album, Murray employs very little outside assistance, because he doesn't need it. His aspiring trombone-wielding son Duncan lends a spooky air to "Run Away To Sea", while lap-steel from Burke Carroll fills many corners, gifting the listener with a few nape-hair tickling moments on opening track "Start Again" and "Pickin' Up Mary Lou". Murray himself sports a frailty and warmth in his voice, relating clear and simple stories of love, death, war and hope, set to a backdrop of springtime or winter nights, depending on the mood.
At forty minutes and ten self-penned songs long, time passes by steadily with "Human Writes", rather like sitting on a barge with your feet up, with a beer in one hand and a good book in the other. It's languid, laid-back but not lazy. And, to paraphrase a well-known TV ad from this singer's prime era, you should never hurry a Murray.