Michael Martin Murphey shouldn't be a stranger to the FAME readership. He penned the monster hit Wildfire, a song that I treasure in with Sylvia's Mother (Dr. Hook), Honey (Bobby Goldsboro), I'm Not In Love (10cc), and other songs so perfect in their kitschiness that they transcend genre and become irresistable. I'm told by biologists that even the orneriest diamondback gets a mist in its slit eye whenever Wildfire hits the desert airwaves, and it's never wise to buck biology. Murphey, however, is a genuine picker and singer in the bluegrass, country, and folk traditions, and this great disc is just dripping with Kentucky fenceline bluegrass. Nor is he exactly unknown among compeers, showing up with Sam Bush, Rob Ickes, and a batallion of seasoned players serving a heaping helping of cowboy refrains and gingham hot waltzes. Carolina in the Pines, for instance, features a rich section of solos fading out as they go on and on…and they coulda kept at it for another half hour, as far as I'm concerned.
The amazing aspect to Buckaroo BlueGrass is that Murphey wrote nine of the songs and co-wrote the other two, each one a damn fine exposition and as solid as the sun is high. Andy Leftwich kicks in an impeccable fiddle throughout, both lyrical and orange blossom exuberant. Murphey's singing has settled, over his long history, into a classic tone, though there's inflection and humor as well (Dancin' in the Meadow). I'm no expert on the guy but have several of his LPs (and yer gonna hafta pry that vinyl from my cold dead hands, Jethro, 'cause I ain't a-givin' it up!), and this is his finest to date. Thus, with this new release, I'd say the cosmic cowboy has landed, and in just the right place.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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