Elliott Murphy

Soul Surfing

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This umpteenth album from the very prolific Elliott Murphy has at least as much commercial potential as anything he's done since the 1970s. Certainly "Come on Louann" is about as catchy as pop tunes get, and tracks like "A Little Push" and "Irish Eyes" have addictive hooks as well. Throughout the ballad-dominated set, Murphy proves his vocal skill and versatility. The instrumentation, mostly by his longtime cohorts, is terrifically imaginative, with mandolin and accordion appearing prominently and male and female backup vocalists chiming in at just the right times. The original lyrics, mostly about love and mostly melancholy, are as distinctive as you'd expect from Murphy and the two non-originals -- Tom Waits' "Hold On" and Toussaint McCall's "Nothing Can Take the Place of You" -- garner powerful performances. Murphy's low-key, vocals-upfront production is just right. Once again, you have to wonder why this guy isn't famous.

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