Elliott Murphy

Selling the Gold

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On his eighth studio album of new original material (his 15th release overall) and first in five years, Elliott Murphy returned to a style familiar from his first several albums of the 1970s, singing a group of folk-rock songs full of highly literate lyrics that commented on modern life from an ironic perspective. Many years into European expatriation, the ex-New Yorker, turning on CNN, still found reasons to send "Love to America," as the leadoff track proclaimed. But in the album's strongest track, "Real Time," he showed skepticism about the brave new world of software and virtual reality, describing the future as, "A universe of aging celebrities on the run/In made for TV movies, repackaged compact discs/They call it home entertainment/It's the same old sh*t." Murphy recommended his listeners read a book instead. He also turned personal at times, recalling departed friends such as Andy Warhol and Federico Fellini (in one of whose films he had appeared), and reflecting on the changes in his domestic life in "A Whole New World." The playing was excellent, and Murphy was joined on one song by Bruce Springsteen, with whom he has always shared a sensibility, and on another by the Violent Femmes, whose work he has influenced.

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