Sung with such soulfulness, Richard Murray offers stories from a life lived most fully on the poetic “The Long Haul”. With firm roots in a traditional rustic country charm the arrangements incorporate elements of chamber pop, indie rock, and occasional hints of classical. By far the heart of the whole album comes from Richard Murray’s expressive voice. He sings with a quiet and determined power. The album has a nimbleness to it rolling through with a clear-eyed focus. Arrangements incorporate a great deal while retaining a unique balance. By allowing everything to fully breathe the whole of the album retains a thoughtfulness.
References to Bruce Springsteen are unavoidable. Like him, Richard Murray offers up careful character studies. These explore the small moments in a life that come to define so much. Everything about the album works perfectly, for each track serves as a chapter in a greater narrative. His attention to detail feels particularly grand, as he explores the innermost thoughts and feelings that run through a mind. Quite lovely at times, his is a modest beauty, one that has a gentle spirit that guides it along.
Opening up the album with “Thunderbird” the tone is set quite quickly. The low-key groove along with his delivery at times recalls Bob Dylan’s approachable sound, with even a hint of the blues. Intimacy reigns over the introspective “Blue, Dyed In The Wool”. Fiery passion anchors the whole of “Buses”. Little flourishes go a long way over the giddiness of “Satellite Town” where the rich, resonant tones have a lush quality to them. Tactile with its delivery is the tenderness of “Devils”. Elements of classical emerge on the regal “Beside The Dying Fire” allowing a hint of the tragic to further color the already captivating sound.
A sparser style takes over on “Thunderbird, Pt. 2” giving Richard Murray an ability to let a stripped-down quality take over. Easily the highlight is the carefully considered “The Barren Waste”. Rollicking with its intense energy the celebratory “Surfing Up To Castlerock”. Things mellow out considerably on the spaciousness of “Nowhere” where the acoustic guitars intermingle in a way that feels so natural. Effortlessly closing out the album is the dreamy disposition of “Hanging on the Hill”.
“The Long Haul” embraces a timelessness to its proceedings, showing off Richard Murray’s soothing, reassuring vocals. Forgoing the trendy, Richard Murray creates something that withstands the test of time with a journey that lingers in the mind long after it has ended.