DOWNBEAT / 4 STAR REVIEW / CARLO WOLF
“Mark Murphy’s sophisticated and catchy Slip Away blends expert jazz with imaginative updates of pop classics and distinctive Murphy originals. Murphy’s voice is slight but penetrating, evoking an even mellower Michael Franks or Kenny Rankin...In such vocal showcases as the tantalizing title track and the Jimmy Webb-like “Bobcaygeon”...Murphy paints vivid pictures of affairs on the verge of either consummation or dissipation. These are come-hither songs, indeed, pretty and melodic...”Conversations,” meanwhile, sparkles with Jon Cowherd’s Wurlitzer and Fender Rhodes, Jeff Ballard’s drums and Chris Morrisey’s bass. “All Things Turn” is simply a beautiful love song, and “Kiwi,” the fleet, brooding instrumental that caps the disc, proves Murphy is a master of mood and atmosphere."
"Fans of intimate, heartfelt jazz and folk music will find themselves returning to Slip Away. It’s an assured debut by a gifted musician with stories to tell."
“(Murphy’s version of) Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather” is compellingly original and a highlight of the album...A fetching version of Johnny Fay’s “BobCaygeon” has some especially sweet Frisellian guitar work by Hekselman and evokes memories of the Allman Brother’s at their ballad best...Murphy’s voice is in some ways a descendant of other cross genre vocalists like Kenny Rankin or Jon Marks from the old Mark-Almond band. A low keyed approach that never threatens to bombast you with anything but sentiment. His voice on Paul McCartney’s “Waterfalls” embraces you with sincerity...Murphy’s “Kiwi” is a wonderful song that skillfully employs some steel guitar finger picking, soaring electric guitar riffs by Hekselman, some eerie EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) work by Stephens and exquisite brush work by Ballard...“Slip Away” is thoroughly entertaining and makes for some quality listening.”
“To this end, Murphy focuses all the alluring restraint of his voice into the poetry of the lyrics. Funneling his unpretentious vocals through altogether cooler, almost otherworldly arrangements that he etches out of his guitar, Murphy is joined by a wonderful cast of musicians who subtract everything but the aching fragility of the music to these songs...Murphy’s warmly expressive voice and the spontaneity with which he spins the lyrics of these songs are utterly captivating...His own work – ‘Conversations’, ‘Slip Away’, ‘All Things Turn’ and ‘Kiwi’ are burnished examples of sheer melodicism...Ultimately it is for these well-judged performances and many more reasons that will pop up each time you listen to the recording that Mark Murphy will elevate himself to something infinitely more substantial among contemporary musicians.”
In many ways it could be seen as the easy way out to take songs written by some of the greats, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Paul McCartney and Randy Newman (I'm not sure The Tragically Hip can be classed as a 'great', but covering their music is no cake walk) and pop their names on the back of your CD, while putting yours on the front. Get that move wrong however, and well, there's no place to hide. It's this risk that acoustic guitar player and singer Mark Murphy takes on Slip Away. To his credit it's difficult not to see it as a masterstroke, Murphy and his gaggle of equally talented band mates making these songs their own.
Newman's "Dayton, Ohio – 1903" is chosen to introduce proceedings and almost immediately have you hooked on a relaxed but assured delivery that makes you live the songs as they share them. Able to morph his voice without ever losing his own identity, Murphy's simple but effective vocal style proves hard to resist and when he's joined by Maria Neckam for a duet of Dylan's "Boots Of Spanish Leather", the results are exhilarating.
"Tell Me Why" may not be the most famous moment from Neil Young's After The Goldrush album, but with a little added sax from Dayna Stephens the track takes on almost lullaby qualities, the beat a gentle rock of the hand as Murphy leads you into another wonderfully told story. Cleverly, Paul McCartney's "Waterfall" is transformed into piano led jazz light, the considered meander most welcome, while The Tragically Hip's "Bobcaygeon" proves an eye catching stroll that much like everything else on Slip Away, transforms what could in the wrong hands be safe and steady and makes it indispensably vital.
It's easy to focus on the covers and in doing so Murphy comes up trumps and yet for future releases I hope this talented song writer turns a stronger light on his own compositions, the four songs he's written for this album easily amongst the best. "Kiwi", which rolls along on a deft shuffle, highlights the understated but skilled guitar work from Murphy and Gilad Hekselman, while "Conversations", with its dabs of organ from Jon Cowherd and rolling beat from Jeff Ballard, adds an air of Bruce Hornsby to the mix; the combination of Stephens' sax and Chris Morrissey's enigmatic bass work, utterly captivating. Leaving "All Things Turn" to find Murphy at his most pensive, while the album's title track shows up just as well in a more exuberant setting that almost brings to mind a less obtuse Steely Dan.
At first glance Slip Away proves almost too unassuming, the easy nature of all nine tracks on show only truly revealing their true beauty as you spend time with them. Once you do, there's no turning back, because what Mark Murphy specializes in simply refuses to slip away.
“Not exactly a jazz record, not exactly a vocal record and certainly not a new set by the scat vocalist that recently passed, this jazzbo Murphy brings his guitar in to what old timers could call a tribute to Kenny Rankin. With pleasing covers and smooth originals, Murphy makes a dandy listening record that’s a must for laid back and easy times when some comfortable listening is just the thing to put the cherry on top of the sundae. Nicely done.”
JAZZ WEEKLY / GEORGE W. HARRIS
"'Slip Away' is unpretentious, informal and as comfy as 2 year old Levis."
ALL ABOUT JAZZ / C. MICHAEL BAILEY
"If music has an IQ, then Murphy's Rainbows raises it to genius level."