David Lee Murphy

Tryin' to Get There

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Audium Records, the country sub-label of the larger indie Koch International, is to '90s new traditionalist country what Cleopatra Records is to nearly-forgotten goth rockers of the '80s: a place where artists dismissed by the big labels can continue their careers in cozier settings. David Lee Murphy, releasing his first album since parting company with MCA after a few mid-sized country radio hits in the mid-'90s, is the archetypal Audium artist: the 12 tracks on Tryin' to Get There are rock-influenced in that the drums are mixed louder than they really should be, but their roots are in the '70s outlaw country of Waylon Jennings (who co-wrote the title track with Murphy shortly before his death in 2001) and Willie Nelson. Songs like the stomping "Ghost in the Jukebox" and the bouncy first single "Loco" are catchy and unfailingly pleasant, but while Murphy is a solid craftsman as a songwriter, his anonymous voice and too-clean production sap a lot of the personality out of the album. By the time of the last song, the Eagles-like country-pop of "Killin' the Pain," Tryin' to Get There sounds like it could have been released by just about anyone with three names and a cowboy hat.

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