Written in the solitude of the mountains of Tennessee and brought to life in their hometown of Bloomington, IN, Murder by Death weave Americana with midwestern gothic on their dark and sprawling fifth album, Good Morning, Magpie. While the stories told through the songs on this album aren’t woven together in the same concept-album style as some of their previous work, there’s certainly no shortage of narratives threads for listeners to pluck at. “As Long as There’s Whiskey in the World” and “King of the Gutters, Prince of the Dogs” both tell tales of the lost and the downtrodden, painting a portrait of a world seen through bourbon-colored glasses. Seemingly inspired by Adam Turla’s time on the mountains, the simultaneously bouncy and ominous “You Don’t Miss Twice (When You’re Shaving with a Knife)” feels like a story that’s careening toward the macabre, with the booming percussion and freewheeling rhythm section creating a sense of impending dread against the backdrop of a perfectly mundane yarn about shaving in the river. It’s this sense of heightened drama that makes Murder by Death such an interesting band. Even at their most upbeat, it always feels like things could get worse for the subjects of the songs, creating a narrative that’s engrossing enough to draw the listener in even after repeated spins. Longtime fans of the band should have no trouble finding a lot to love on Good Morning, Magpie despite the lack of a complete story, which should make for a less daunting, but still rewarding listening experience for the casual listener.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney