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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Chris Murphy

Surface to Air

Review by Gary Hill

There is a lot of roots music in the mix here, country, folk and more. Add in rock music, Celtic sounds and a number of other things, and you’ll be on the right track. This is a strong set, but not everything is perfect. Still, few albums can be called perfect start to finish.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
Sailing the World Alone

Country, folk and world music merge on this catchy and energetic rocker.

That Just Might Do The Trick
The mix of sounds here isn’t really all that different. Yet, this is not nearly a clone of the previous cut. It’s still a lot of fun. Perhaps it lands a bit more on the country end of the spectrum.
Surface To Air
A high energy number, this is a lot of fun. It still has the familiar references, but somehow stands taller than much of the stuff here.
The Blacksmith’s Fancy
This killer instrumental has a real Irish feeling to it. Of course, Irish music and country music have a lot in common, really.
Dead Weight
This is a lot more of a rock and roller. It’s also a lot of fun. Somehow it even reminds me just a bit of something BTO might have done.
Vernon Tool & Die
With an old time music vibe, this reminds me of something from Camper Van Beethoven in a lot of ways. It’s classy stuff. There is definitely some jazz here along with world music and more. This is one of my favorite songs of the whole set.
Last of the Twickham Blackbirds
Closer to the country folk end of things, this is another effective piece.
The Oscar Wilde Waltz
There is a bit of a spacey, trippy air to this. It has a real folk sound, as well. It’s still got plenty of country music in the mix, too. It’s a cool instrumental with some great melodies.
Elmira Prison Camp
I dig the blend of country and rock on this cool number. It’s very much a roots based song. It’s also very powerful. The melody on this reminds me a bit of Neil Young’s “Old Man.”
Wish You Well
More alternative rock based, there is a bit of a trippy, almost psychedelic edge to this. The more world music meets country sounds on this really soar.
Bugulusa Blues
There is a high energy Celtic meets country sound to this stomper. In some ways it resembles some jazzy southern rock jamming, too. This instrumental is smoking hot. There is a drop later to a percussion workout.
Nothing Good Happens
Folk, country and bluegrass merge on this mid-tempo roots number. It’s catchy and a lot of fun.
Music for a Feast
This instrumental is probably the most blatantly Celtic cut here. Yet, it does have other types of wanderings, too.
The Hunter & The Fox
I’m not sure of the wisdom of ending the disc with two instrumentals. Still, this one is pretty cool. It starts with a mellower Celtic jam, and eventually shifts out to a real powered up section. I think that second movement is a reel, but I’m not sure.
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