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Feed Your Head: The Sound Field and Lauren Murphy

Doug Collette By

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As one of three lead vocalists and four composers in Jefferson Airplane at its peak of creativity, Grace Slick may not always get the respect and recognition she deserves in the annals of contemporary rock and roll. But the woman was the most recognizable voice of the band and also its most significant songwriter, singing lead and writing one of the group's two biggest hits, "White Rabbit," while also bringing to the group its other most famous tune,"Somebody to Love," from her previous affiliation in The Great Society (with the song's author Darby Slick). Following in her footsteps, Deborah Grabien and Lauren Murphy ably fulfill the role of titular and creative leader of their respective ensembles, wielding their varied skills to transcend readily-recognizable roots that often cause lesser artists to stumble. Grace Slick would be proud of these women—and perhaps even a bit envious too!

The Sound Field
This Moment of the Storm
Rocker Chick
2021

Thanks in part to the augmentation of its core trio, The Sound field's second album, This Moment of the Storm, is an incrementally ghostly listening experience over the course of its dozen tracks and near sixty-minutes duration. The esteemed David Lindley, long-time accompanist to Jackson Browne, adds color with lap steel on "Cry For Memory" and "Walk" plus bouzouki on "Copperhead Road," while Mark Karan, best known for his long-term work with former members of the Grateful Dead, chips in with suitably intricate guitar work. The ringing notes of piano courtesy Henry Salvia, on "Across My Kitchen Door" and nine other cuts, stand out all the more in contrast to the stringed instrument wizardry around him. Likewise, two cover songs from disparate sources highlight how (mostly) well-crafted are this band's original material: Steve Earle's "Copperhead Road" and the late Tom Petty's "You And I Will Meet Again." The latter, most appropriately, appears on from Into The Great Wide Open (MCA, 1991), into which The Sound Field confidently venture on the extended improvisations within the nine minute and nineteen second "Zoo In Heaven:" Grabien does her most abandoned singing here and accordingly, she could stand to belt it out more (and take her accompanists along on that wilder ride).

Lauren Murphy
Psychedelics
Self Produced
2021

Lauren Murphy shares more than a little with The Sound Field, not the least of which are the aforementioned musicians Salvia and Karan. The latter, who co-produced Psychedelics with Murphy herself at Dauphin Street Sound in Mobile, AL., also accompanies members of the band named after this record. Such continuity of activity further delineates common roots in the Sixties also extending to a package layout by Bob Minkin Design (he of so many superb photos of the Grateful Dead even apart from his book Photographed By (Insight Editions , 2014) as well as two songs here co-authored by the late wordsmith Robert Hunter for that latter band. Cover art by this artist's daughter is indicative of the family-like atmosphere that permeates this music too, the unified communal spirit evident from the first moments of "Time Across." This record is only a little over thirty-minutes long, even including a bonus track, Murphy's acoustic-based "My Most Deadly Sin," but plenty takes place during that duration: as on "Psychedelicize," however, none of the musicians get in each others' way or display any impatience in their participation. As a result, there's an implicit confidence in this music that warrants the bold move of covering JA's "Somebody to Love," where, as with all that precedes, Lauren Murphy's singing is as supple as the musicianship and vice-versa.

Tracks and Personnel

This Moment of the Storm

Tracks: It's About Time; Across My Kitchen Door; Copperhead Road; Trick of the Light; Zoo In Heaven; If We Get Lucky; Cry for Memory; Everything About You; Crazy Girl; You and I Will meet Again; Walk; Roof Falling.

Personnel:Deborah Grabien: lead vocals; electric guitars, Baglama Saz; Mark Karan: guitars; David Lindley: lap steel, bouzouki; Henry Salvia: keyboards; Nic Grabien on bass, Larry Luthi: drums, percussion; Vadim Canby: percussion; Angel Choir: background vocals.

Psychedelics

Tracks: Time Across; Psychedelicize; Give In to Love; End of the World Blues; Booker & Honey; Cataline; Somebody to Love; My Most Deadly Sin.

Personnel: Lauren Murphy: lead vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar; Mark Karan: guitars; John Cochran: lead guitar, slide guitar; Drew Smithers: lead guitar, slide guitar; Henry Salvia: piano, Hammond B3, Vox Continental, Farfisa, glockenspiel; Brooks Hubbert: waterphone; Molly Thomas: violin, fiddle, hand clapping, background vocals; John Keuler: bass, background vocals; Winter Baynes: drums, percussion.

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