Sweet Country Suite

Larry Murray

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Sweet Country Suite Review

by Richie Unterberger

Larry Murray's first solo outing is much like the music he wrote and played in Hearts and Flowers, but much more countrified and mellow. The extremely laid-back songs, arrangements, and vocal delivery anticipate the tenor of much California country-rock of the early '70s. In fact, several of the musicians integral to that genre are among his supporting cast, including J.D. Souther, Gib Guilbeau, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's John McEuen. There's also a slight gospel feel to many of the tunes, particularly in the backup vocals by Swampwater and the Blackberries. It's pleasant and good-natured early country-rock. But it's also just too low-energy to be as memorable as Hearts and Flowers, and the songs, mostly by Murray, are not that striking either. The best tracks are the ones, such as "Headed for the Country" and "Sweet Country Suite," that put a bit (though not much) of pop depth to the arrangements. Among the non-original material are compositions by Souther ("Out to Sea"), Guilbeau ("Big Bayou"), and Elton John and Bernie Taupin ("Country Comfort").

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