Bob Frank and John Murry | World Without End (Closer Recording Studios)

cd_murryWorld Without End is an unforgivingly remorseless stitchwork of murder ballads that unlike the somber, sometimes repentant Murder Ballads of Nick Cave, are just, well, creepy.

 

 

 

 

From the grim minds of John Murry (vocals, banjo, lap steel, acoustic guitar, and piano), Brad Postelthwaite (bowed saw), Becky Miller (cello), Quinn Miller (bass), Nate Cavalieri (piano), and David Manning (violin) comes World Without End, an unforgivingly remorseless stitchwork of murder ballads that unlike the somber, sometimes repentant Murder Ballads of Nick Cave, are just, well, creepy.

And beautifully accompanied. Murry and Frank accent each of these purportedly historical tales with a gentle blend of Leonard Cohen-esque organwork, bar saloon-drawls, and gritty Johnny Cashisms that flirt with the ties between music and the Devil. Whether sending up unrepentant killers, legendary Robin Hood figures, or lynchings from the perspective of Klansmen and victims, the two never cease the eerie tone that permeates the album.

Perhaps it's the markedly different way in which the two present these musical vignettes that create such a hopeless current. Absent of salvation, tales like "Tupelo, Mississippi, 1936" and "Little Wiley Harpe, 1803" stand out among the 10 ballads as examples of the South's darker past. "Madeline, 1796" is a particularly haunting song about the mistress of a tavern owner whose wife learns of her husbands adultery and has Madeline murdered and bricked into the fireplace in the couple's main dining room.

If that isn't strange enough, John Murry's roots stretch back to his long-dead cousin, southern writer William Faulkner who popularized the fictional town of Yoknapatawha and continued a long tradition of stories about the disintegrating southern family. In a morbid sort of pride, Murry boasts a burial plot only feet away from the great writer. According to old press clippings, and before a damaging outburst at Max's Kansas City in New York, Frank had been attributed with a burgeoning talent on par with Bob Dylan.

Frank's 28-year hiatus from music and his eventual meeting with Murry seems to be a fortunate one. The two have found an outlet for their curiosities about the nature of murder, death, and justice, and hopefully that will pass on to listeners. If anything, World Without End will inspire guilt at the joyful devouring of every word and note. A- | James Nokes

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