Billy Joe Murphy & Yesterday's Love Song
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Billy Joe Murphy & Yesterday's Love Song

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The best kept secret in music


"A Cure-all for the Thursday Night Blues:The lilting harmonies of Billy Joe Murphy"

By: Jessica Acuna

Angsty. Enigmatic. Moody. Charming. Billy Joe Murphy embodies all of a musician’s best traits while asserting his own unique musical presence. Penning graceful lyrics and soft rock ballads since his adolescence in Pennsylvania, 24-year-old Murphy continues to write and cultivate his musical style here in Wilmington. Some of you may have heard a copy of Billy Joe Murphy and Yesterday’s Love Song’s 2003 self-titled debut, a sophisticated collection of supple rock tunes performed by Murphy and band members Tripp Murphy, Seth Moody and Matt Barbour. These days, however, you can catch Murphy going solo on Thursday nights at Divano sofa bar.

Donning snug blue jeans, a faded t-shirt and the essential musician’s jacket, Billy Joe Murphy has all the makings of a proper rock god. He strums his guitar, closes his eyes and melts onto the stage, belting out his elegant balladry with shameless finesse. During his performance of the hauntingly beautiful “Saving Grace,” he hugs his guitar and laments, “I’ve cut out love,” pulling the heartstrings of the crowd with his sentimental melody. Songwriter to a style of rock as introverted as his personality, Murphy says little between his performances, save a hushed humble “Thank you.” With his pensive lyrics, rapturous tunes and vulnerable stage presence, Murphy captures and delivers the unadorned spirit of a true artist.

Musicians usually try to emulate their influences, whether conscious of it or not. Murphy doesn’t try to hide his strong affinity for the late great Jeff Buckley, scattering covers from Grace throughout his set list of originals. He even bore the financial brunt to record the album at legendary Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, New York, the place where Buckley unleashed his soul for Grace, a sort of pilgrimage for devoted fans and a dream recording site for revering musicians.

Buckley’s influence is apparent in every aspect of Murphy’s music. From his delicate instrumentals and poetic lyrics to his mellifluous rock tunes, Murphy displays a marvelous rawness that so many have found captivating in Buckley’s music. Perhaps more incredible is Murphy’s brilliant falsetto, a trait eerily reminiscent of Buckley’s trademark singing range. In addition to his gift for songwriting, Murphy’s got a voice that some musicians would kill for. You’re sure to never hear a more convincing cover of “Mojo Pin”or “Grace” from anyone else. From his stirring cover of Buckley’s “Forget Her,” to his warm performance of his sublime original “Second Guess,” Murphy delivers a smooth singing voice of impressive range.

Murphy has managed to create and produce his own lovely form of genius. Playing a rounded balance of album favorites and works-in-progress, like his latest composition “Dizzy,” Murphy’s talent for arrangement assures his appeal to a multitude of audiences. Full of painful yearning, stormy rampage and intense emotion, Murphy’s lyrics are at times hopeful, at times downright melancholy. You only have to hear one of Murphy’s songs to know the kid has an obvious aptitude for bottling life’s most heartbreaking moments with stunning exactness. Songs like “Love is a Coward” explores the bittersweet qualities of misery, while ending the evening’s performance with Buckley’s majestic “Lover You Should Have Come Over,” suggests Murphy’s sentimentality and incredible range.

In case you can’t already guess, witnessing Billy Joe Murphy’s exceptional musical talents is a supreme experience. If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself this Thursday from 9:30-10:30pm at Divano, located above Prima restaurant downtown. In this tranquil setting, you can sit in plush sofas with your friends, favorite beverage in hand and truly enjoy the enlightened instrumentation of a rising talent. What else on Thursday nights can compete with that? .
- Encore Magazine

""The New Age of Love Songs: Billy Joe Murphy breaks many hearts""

Shea Carver

"There'll be sad songs to make you cry," I believe was a Billy Ocean lyric back in the '80's, that instead of making you cry made you cringe with disbelief that you were actually sitting through a horrific song, singing every lyric like it was your last. The funniest part of Billy Ocean's "There'll Be Sad Songs (to Make You Cry)" that it's, without a doubt, one of the hokiest love songs ever. But what do you expect from '80's contemporary adult rock? You honestly don't think you're going to hear Led Zeppelin stylings, paired with Rolling Stones attitude in a romantic musical structure, do you? I think not.

However, in 2003, you music lovers can expect to hear this hodge podge of sound. Wilmington has another Billy who does write really sentimental love songs that truly made me want to cry upon the first listen. Billy Joe Murphy is his name - and his sound freezes that moment in time when experiencing torturous heartache. Such emotions are tangible in Billy Joe Murphy & Yesterday's Love Song's latest full LP, self-titled release.

Recorded in Woodstock, New York, at the famous Bearsville Studio (where bands like R.E.M., Bob Dylan and Jeff Buckley recorded), Billy Joe Murphy (guitar, vocals) and his band - made up of Tripp Murphy (guitar), Seth Moody (bass, wurlitzer, organ and guitar) and Matt Barbour (drums) - laid down tracks that are timeless in musicality and have an undeniable moving pathos.

The first track, "Second Guess," has the tenacity of being the song you listen to over and over in your headset, as you're peering out of an airplane window, leaving behind a love that isn't supposed to be abandoned. The slide guitar pairs dramtically with Murphy's falsetto voice, all set in a dusty and somber tempo that reaches anguishing climax to mere perfection.

"Heads on Hands" is another groping tune with rolling rhythms and great movement change. It has a feel of U2, yet more melodic, with the subtleness of the electric guitar adding whimsy to its mien. The instrumental ending shows the massive talent the band obtains as a whole. Needless to say, they're quite impressive.

The layering of sounds in "I'll Beg For You" match in perfect synch with one another, and the progression of chords is sensational. But when the baritone vocals set in during "Love is a Coward," you get the feeling that Murphy has found his sound. With a surreal and whispy feel, there's a dimness to the song too that while it sounds fascinating, is also distressing. Angelic and sinful, it's one of those songs that offers a dichotomy of affection.

While Billy Joe Murphy & Yesterday's Love Song aren't your typical local indie band, they are an impressive group of musical prowess. If Coldplay had a younger brother, they just may well be it. Don't miss their performance at Fathom's Bistro in Lumina Station, on Wednesday, December 17th at 7 PM. Enjoy dinner over not-so-average dinner music. If you can't make it, mark your calender for January 22nd at the Soapbox Laundro Lounge, where they'll entertain downtown patrons who I know will eat them up.
- Encore Magazine


Billy Joe Murphy & Yesterday's Love Song


It was recorded at Legendary BEARSVILLE STUDIOS in Woodstock, NY, home of such classics as Jeff Buckley's "Grace," Dave Matthews Band's "Crash," and REM's "Out of Time." Also Bob Dylan, the Pretenders, The Band and the Rolling Stones.


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"When you feel you feel……and when you’ve felt
you’ll live to feel again."
South East Pennsylvania (Outside of Philadelphia) has been home to me for the majority of my life. Most of that time was spent writing and playing with a few close friends while being inspired by my older brother Trip Murphy and all he did musically.

In 1999 when I left for school in North Carolina, I would complete my first solo album, Billy the Kid “Out of This World”. Seth Moody, fellow musician and co-producer of “Billy Joe Murphy & Yesterday’s Love Song” was my primary collaborator on this LP. After that solo album was complete I moved to Athens, Georgia to finally be with the one whose absence six years later would inspire this album.

Our last years of college were spent back up in Pennsylvania, where my focus was diverted away from music....

...but there’s something about a major life change that gets the drive going to say something. You find that your willing to take a risk, a risk that could ultimately end up saving you.

With a renewed drive, I moved back down to North Carolina. It was there where I met up with my musical idols (Trip Murphy, Seth Moody, and Matt Barbour) and asked for their help in communicating what I had to say. One month and many loans later we were on a plane to Woodstock, New York and the legendary Bearsville Studio to record “Billy Joe Murphy & Yesterday’s Love Song". We all have and will feel loss somewhere and sometime in our lives and when it happens you want a release……here is my release to You.