Existing in a murky net of sound, “Southern Sky” wraps you into its spacious yet slightly menacing world with an enticing mix of buzz and chime. The song launches with a purposeful, two-chord alternation, which gives the piece both propulsion and tension. We wait for release, it doesn’t come. The verse hews to the two chords, and Murry’s blanketty voice, rich and weary, sings a melody marked by rests and delays.
At 1:10 a new chord arrives, and something like redemption: the churning, moody verse gives way to a darkly gorgeous chorus. Murry is joined by a female backup singer, that elusive marimba-like sound comes slightly more forward into our awareness, and while the melody once more occupies the back end of the measure, it now feels suffused with grace and power. Without doing any one remarkable thing, this chorus is nevertheless remarkable, and it gives “Southern Sky” the sturdy feel of something timeless and necessary.
With addiction and loss in his back story, Murry is not play-acting here; the song’s partially-contained anguish is probably all too real. Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, Murry has landed as a musician in the Bay Area. His debut album, The Graceless Age, was released last year in the UK, and then in the US in April via the Oakland-based Evangeline Recording Co. You can listen to the whole album, and buy it if you like, via Bandcamp. Thanks to WXPN for the head’s up. You can download the song via the link above or via SoundCloud, where you can comment directly to Murry if you are so moved.