Artist- Murder By Death
Album- Good Morning, Magpie
Label - Vagrant Records
4 out of 5 pitchforks
With its new album, “Good Morning, Magpie,” Indiana group Murder By Death perfects its brooding folk-rock sound and moves it in an even folksier direction.
The album, which feels something like a narrative, still keeps to the themes prevalent in the band’s earlier albums — family, love, the drink and disparity felt by regular, blue-collar people — that Murder By Death is ultimately replicating.
Lead singer Adam Turla’s gravelly vocals add to the authenticity of the concept of folk music as music for the salt of the earth. He accentuates tracks like the short intro song “Kentucky Bourbon” and “As Long As There Is Whiskey In The World,” two drinking songs that feel more country than rock.
In “On The Dark Streets Below,” the band seems to put some swing into its folksy tale. With horns that walk the line between mariachi and swing, the band brings a very danceable element to its music as Turla recounts the story of Annie, Adele and August, three girls who have lost their way.
The sleepy “King Of The Gutters, Prince Of The Dogs” is the melancholy musing of an old man on his life. It is exactly the sort of track that epitomizes the feelings Murder By Death cares to write about: an old man who has lived a long life and has little to show for it.
“Piece By Piece” is a mysterious story told by a father to his son. It is both promising and foreboding as Turla sings, “I paid my dues and I had my fun/You’ll have yours too, son.” The track begins with a tinkling guitar and the eerie sound of an organ but soon builds as the organ cuts out and the cello and guitar back the vocalist’s peculiar voice.
The title track is a rich, cello-filled tune that changes significantly over its course. The cello bridge after the first verse is enchanting and spooky. A minute and a half in, the song sounds less like Murder By Death and more like Cursive. However, the song quickly morphs again into a love song to the Magpie herself.
The track “You Don’t Miss Twice (When You’re Shavin’ With A Knife)” sounds like a dark 1920s club song. Blurring the line between the topics of shaving and murder, the eerie track has a certain black humor about it that makes it strangely funny.
“Yes” is a joyous song about the natural end to life. “Yes, everyone comes and goes,” Turla sings over a track at a hoedown.
Undoubtedly a love song, “Foxglove” sounds like the beginning of a Wes Anderson film. Cellist Sarah Balliet leads the song with her bow as Turla remains captivated by the beauty of his love.
Ending with “The Day,” Turla shows his vocal range can vary, whether it shows on other tracks or not.
An exciting and brooding folk-rock album, “Good Morning, Magpie” is a great stand-alone album and an even better addition to Murder By Death’s collection as the group’s fifth studio album.
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