Kaz Murphy is a well-traveled singer-songwriter and published author with a knack for melody and catchy songs. On "Ride Out the Storm," his fourth solo effort, and first since 2007's "Home for Misfits," he effortlessly pays homage to classic rock and pop with country underpinnings on topics ranging from family breakdowns, love, addiction and calls for unity. If his deep, rough voice doesn't grab you, his songcraft should.
Murphy has plenty of experience to draw on. Having grown up in South Jersey and gigging on the East Coast folk scene, Murphy later accompanied beat poet Allen Ginsberg in New Mexico coffeehouses, spent several years in Seattle as the front man for the folk group, Mad Mad Nomad, before finally settling in Los Angeles where he's been for over a decade now, even though this album was recorded in Texas with ace producer and multi-instrumentalist Jud "Scrappy" Newcomb.
The title track has the title line "ride out the storm," as he calls for unity and perhaps a revolution of sorts. Sparse instrumentation, relying primarily on acoustic, baritone guitars and mandolin color, most of the tracks with the deceptively bleak "Sunny Day" as an example. As the album unfolds, there are Tex-Mex influences inspired by Newcomb, but in Murphy's comfort zone, given his time spent in New Mexico and Austin during the '70s to early '80s, around the time he was with Ginsberg. These influences are best exemplified in the half-spoken, half-sung story song "Soft Heart."
The existential passages in "Where You Come From" were inspired by reading Karen Fisher's novel "Sudden Country" and the Dillon Roadhouse in Desert Hot Springs, Cal. "All I Wanna Do is Work" is an escapism from a relationship gone bad. He humorously regales lost love in "Somebody Could Be Me." In another story song, he makes light of a former affection in "Stella Rae," who resorted to addiction. "Forget About the World Tonight" is his more modern day take in sentiment on Eddy Arnold's "Make the World Go Away." The uplifting Tex-Mex flavored closer, "Rise Me Up," is bolstered by Penny Jo Pullus' harmonies.
With this return, Murphy showcases himself to be a skilled songwriter.