Encore Magazine Dec. 17-22, 2003
"The New Age of Love Songs: Billy Joe Murphy breaks many hearts"
- Shea Carver

"There'll be sad songs to make you cry," I believe was a Billy Ocean lyric back in the '80's, that instead of making you cry made you cringe with disbelief that you were actually sitting through a horrific song, singing every lyric like it was your last. The funniest part of Billy Ocean's "There'll Be Sad Songs (to Make You Cry)" that it's, without a doubt, one of the hokiest love songs ever. But what do you expect from '80's contemporary adult rock? You honestly don't think you're going to hear Led Zeppelin stylings, paired with Rolling Stones attitude in a romantic musical structure, do you? I think not.

However, in 2003, you music lovers can expect to hear this hodge podge of sound. Wilmington has another Billy who does write really sentimental love songs that truly made me want to cry upon the first listen. Billy Joe Murphy is his name - and his sound freezes that moment in time when experiencing torturous heartache. Such emotions are tangible in Billy Joe Murphy & Yesterday's Love Song's latest full LP, self-titled release.

Recorded in Woodstock, New York, at the famous Bearsville Studio (where bands like R.E.M., Bob Dylan and Jeff Buckley recorded), Billy Joe Murphy (guitar, vocals) and his band - made up of Tripp Murphy (guitar), Seth Moody (bass, wurlitzer, organ and guitar) and Matt Barbour (drums) - laid down tracks that are timeless in musicality and have an undeniable moving pathos.

The first track, "Second Guess," has the tenacity of being the song you listen to over and over in your headset, as you're peering out of an airplane window, leaving behind a love that isn't supposed to be abandoned. The slide guitar pairs dramtically with Murphy's falsetto voice, all set in a dusty and somber tempo that reaches anguishing climax to mere perfection.

"Heads on Hands" is another groping tune with rolling rhythms and great movement change. It has a feel of U2, yet more melodic, with the subtleness of the electric guitar adding whimsy to its mien. The instrumental ending shows the massive talent the band obtains as a whole. Needless to say, they're quite impressive.

The layering of sounds in "I'll Beg For You" match in perfect synch with one another, and the progression of chords is sensational. But when the baritone vocals set in during "Love is a Coward," you get the feeling that Murphy has found his sound. With a surreal and whispy feel, there's a dimness to the song too that while it sounds fascinating, is also distressing. Angelic and sinful, it's one of those songs that offers a dichotomy of affection.

While Billy Joe Murphy & Yesterday's Love Song aren't your typical local indie band, they are an impressive group of musical prowess. If Coldplay had a younger brother, they just may well be it. Don't miss their performance at Fathom's Bistro in Lumina Station, on Wednesday, December 17th at 7 PM. Enjoy dinner over not-so-average dinner music. If you can't make it, mark your calender for January 22nd at the Soapbox Laundro Lounge, where they'll entertain downtown patrons who I know will eat them up.

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