Steve Murrell, Elysian Fields (Independent)

Steve Murrell’s Elysian Fields was a long time in the making and features all original songs from Murrell and company. Things kick off with “All That I Needed,” in which Murrell delivers a vocal performance that conjures up images of that classic Dylan-esque contemptuous sneer. It’s an all-out rocker that prominently features some nice six-string work.

51gputc81sl-_ss500Things slow down on “Like Stars.” The music fits nicely with Murrell’s lyrics and lets choir member Natalye Howard shine. “The Cream Will Rise To The Top” features the aforementioned choir as well as Al McSpadden on horns. Murrell stays in this mode for “Memphis Tonight (1962).” On “I’ll Go Back Home” Murrell paints a scene similar to Robert Hunter’s “Black Muddy River,” and while these songs are solid and feature nice arrangements, Murrell really shines when he picks up the tempo and allows everyone to cut loose.

“Poor Man’s Son” was clearly informed by the many years Murrell lived in Louisiana and it swaggers like classic Tony Joe White—it is atmospheric and swampy and drips with south Louisiana funk. “Lonesome, Restless, and Blue” feels like a classic road trip song as Lebron Scott and Sean O’Rourke (bass and drums respectively) push and pull the music forward as Murrell leads us down long-forgotten highways traversed in years past. “Jezebel” continues the funky groove and is augmented nicely by McSpadden’s horn work.