Murray Head

Voices

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Recorded and released in 1981, Voices predates Murray Head's commercial breakthrough, "One Night in Bangkok." This is a very English album focused on gentle, intelligent acoustic pop songs. No wonder it went by unnoticed at a time when punk rock and new wave monopolized the attention of the media. Members of Fairport Convention and Caravan accompany the singer, along with longtime collaborator Alun Davies, pop producer Rupert Hine, and guitar hero Jeff Beck. But of all these musicians, the Fairport Convention connection had the biggest influence on the album's sound. Pieces like "Last Daze of an Empire," "Old Soho," and "Going Home" all bear the British folk signature of the group -- except that they are propelled by Head's powerful vocal delivery. "She's Doing Time on the Line" shares affinities with Peter Blegvad's universe, while "Children Only Play (Do You Remember?)" foretells Head's Québec hit "Comme des Enfants Qui Jouent." And "How Many Ways" conjures up the image of Cat Stevens (during the first verse, the singer sounds like he deliberately imitates Stevens). Because of its delicate moods, careful arrangements, and strong cohesion, Voices ranks high in the singer's discography, at its top beside Say It Ain't So, and it deserves a fair place in the music library of any fan of the folk singer/songwriter genre. Recommended.

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