As Uncut said of John Murry’s music, it’s “burnt, bruised Americana” for those who adore the self-deprecating introspection of The National and the proto-country storytelling of The Horrible Crowes. The next record in the pantheon on Murry’s work, The Stars Are God’s Bullet Holes, promises to be a world unto itself, wrapped in the softest black velvet and studded with shining examples of the musician’s signature style.
First up from the album is ‘Oscar Wilde (Came Here To Make Fun Of You)’, the lead single that walks the line between the comedic and the serious, much like the iconic Irish writer for whom the song is named after. It’s an elusive five-minute recording that keeps the listener on their toes as Murry’s peppers in his well-read clues. He sings in that distinctive Southern drawl, “Tell me: what immortal hand or eye / Is gonna give a damn enough to cry / When every day is like huffing lighter fluid / Take me to Reading Gaol with Oscar Wilde / I’ll get used to it. / Lock me up in Clerkenwell prison / I’ll blow a hole right through it.
John Murry’s third album is starlit and wondrous, like being wrapped in the softest black velvet. It’s an album of startling imagery and insinuating melodies, of cold moonlight and searing heat. It’s a record that penetrates to the very heart of you, searing with its burning honesty, its unsparing intimacy and its twisted beauty.
Murray’s previous two albums had been responses to specific traumas: the centrepiece of his debut, ‘The Graceless Age’ – the astonishing ‘Little Colored Balloons’ – told of his near-death from a heroin overdose; its follow-up, ‘A Short of History of Decay’, was recorded in the wake of Murry’s marriage failing. ‘The Stars Are God’s Bullet Holes’, coming six years after Murry left the US for Ireland, is the result of a period of stability, though in Murry’s case it’s all relative (“I think a lot of what we call contentment is delusional,” he observes).
The result is a record that shares its predecessors’ lyrical ingenuity, but this time the sadness is shot through with humour, albeit a spectacularly black humour. “Of course I’d die for you,” opens the title track. “You’d watch me, wouldn’t you?” ‘I Refuse To Believe You Could Love Me’ has Murry venturing into the realm of unexplained disappearances – an English aristocrat and an Australian politician: “Lord Lucan, he could not tread water / Prime Minister Holt? He never came up for air.