James Murdoch
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James Murdoch

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | INDIE

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | INDIE
Band Folk Acoustic

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Ronatron
James Murdoch Live At The Backstage Lounge

Canada is a whirlpool of talent, but it is extremely hard to break into the music business without the right motivation and without enough passion. Lucky for us, James Murdoch possesses all of these qualities that will one day launch him all across the world.

You can describe him as a child prodigy who has matured into adulthood. Born and raised in beautiful Whitehorse, Yukon, James was essentially born to be a rockstar. His father and uncles were all established writers, while his mother was a concert producer. If his life was a book, all these elements foreshadow his future as an accomplished musician. So far the story is going as planned, as his first solo record “Polyphonic” was nominated in 2001 and 2002 for “Outstanding Pop Record” at The West Coast Music Awards and Prairie Music Week. In 2004, the success story continued with James being signed to Montreal based Indica Records. This would prove to be a great turning point for James, as he would now be exposed to a much wider audience and a bigger pool of talent to work off of. He followed up his first record with “Between the Lines” which garnered much radio and video play on the likes of Much More Music and MTV Canada.

James Murdoch With his own success, James was able to open up Norwood Studio in Edmonton to help other talented young artists start their own career, such as Amy Seely and The Wheat Pool. This, however, did not stop him from creating his own music, and in 2005, he released “Postcards EP” and followed that up in 2007 with his most current album titled “In Transit”. His latest album is produced by musician/producer Hawksley Workman, which, in my mind, gives James instant credibility. With Workman playing on many tracks, and other talented musicians contributing, this album is produced to perfection.

I was lucky enough to watch James Murdoch perform at the The Backstage Lounge when he was in town a while ago. Before his set, I sat down with him and talked about his musical background as well as his new album. What amazed me most was his professionalism as a musician. With his musical talent, he has been able to travel the world, from Spain to New York, and with all of these experiences in mind, he was able to create a solid record “In Transit.” When he was on an East Coast tour of Canada, he received a phone call from none other than Hawksley Workman, asking if he could produce his new record. With all of these elements combined, there was no doubt that this would be a great record.

His live performance was just as amazing. The passion he exuded on stage truly showed his desire to make great music. He can be described as a blend of Keane and Jason Collett, with a touch of Paul McCartney and Coldplay. James is a great example of how young Canadian artists are putting together full bands of surprising quality and touring for way less money than they deserve. There were many highlights to the night, too many to name off, but what impressed me the most was his versatility. He could change from a danceable tune to a soft ballad without making the transition too awkward, which made the set sound smooth and pleasing. There were three songs that stood out for me. First being a song titled “Goodnight” which is a tender ballad that can touch anyone’s frozen heart and turn it into mush. This was followed by “Give me your love,” which is a funk-rock based track, which can make just about anyone get off their seat and dance. The final song that impressed me was the first track off his new album “Get what you deserve.” The passion the entire band exuded on stage for this song was electric, and it truly invigorated the audience.

For more information on James Murdoch please feel free to visit his website as well as his MySpace. - Ronatron.net


JAMES MURDOCH - In Transit PDF Print E-mail

jamesmurdochintransit.jpgCD Review
Artist: James Murdoch
Title: In Transit
Label: Indica Records
Publicity: Business Dreams Consulting

3 ½ Stars

Reviewed By: Kindah Mardam Bey

It is easy to define James Murdoch's fourth album In Transit...quality. Murdoch is a great musician and already a pro at a young age. He comes from a family of creative people and he was destined to take the world of music on like a second skin from an early standpoint. Murdoch has already performed with innumerable bands, and innumerable records, and he seems primed to be noticed on a larger scale with In Transit. Murdoch's music is polished, current and rich with reflection.

You can here Murdoch's influences in much of his music as hints of Keane and Coldplay are heard in the track ‘Transportation,' Paul McCartney can be heard impressionistically in the great track ‘King And Queens,' and even a little seventies glam rock can be found in ‘Give Me Your Love.' ‘Goodnight' is a wonderfully romantic song, as is ‘Blindsided.' Murdoch has a great texture to his voice, which is calming, and tender, as well as reminiscent and slightly melancholy. You could easily put In Transit on during a laidback house party and people would be asking who the artist is. Producer and Singer Songwriter, Hawksley Workman's fingerprint is all over this album, which is a perfect match in temper and style to Murdoch's own.

James Murdoch sounds like a soft-edged rock musician; full of great ballads and uplifting songs, but still with a little edge to pull his sound out of the pop realm. My only concern is that even though In Transit has a great amount of polished quality to each and every track Murdoch creates, he might be pigeon-holed as his sound is often duplicated in present day (think Barenaked Ladies and all the other bands that sound similar to them). I hope that Murdoch's ability to do common tread territory better than most will help him to standout. Either way you look at it, Murdoch is a huge asset to Western Canada's presence in music. - A n E Vibe


Matt Reeder (CHARTattack)
02/05/2008 3:30pm

As the Balkanization of indie music into genre-bending splinter groups continues unabated, it's refreshing to hear a musician willing to get back to basics. Edmonton-based songwriter James Murdoch does just that on his latest disc. You'll find verses that alternate amicably with choruses, hooks that go down easy, and heartfelt lyrics about time-worn topics like zig-zagging the globe, heartache and the romance of country living. While some of the songs seem almost deliberately designed to land Murdoch a deal soundtracking the opening credits of the next O.C.-style TV drama, dig deeper and you'll find some hidden gems. Album closer "Blindsided" — a simple acoustic number in which Murdoch's vocals recall Ryan Adams' — threatens to steal the show from radio-ready cuts such as "Give Me Your Love" and "False Alarm." Though co-producer and all-around gun-for-hire Hawksley Workman's name is plastered all over In Transit, this record is all Murdoch's. - Chartattack


James Murdoch
In Transit
By Amanda Ash

We all know Hawksley Workman has the Midas touch, but before this producer extraordinaire laid hands on James Murdoch’s fourth album, it was already made of gold. Born in the Yukon, and now living in Edmonton, Murdoch has come a long way with In Transit — the record is spicy and gritty, bubbly and folky, all at the same time. His songs are inspired by his travels and subsequent performances, ranging from Spain to New York. “Get What You Deserve” highlights Murdoch’s confidence as a singer-songwriter, his vocals leading a striding pack of guitars and tambourines into the song’s revitalising message. “Transportation” chugs along with mechanical drums and plugging bass lines commenting on our inability to slow down in life, while “Lift You Up” acts as the silver lining that’ll make you want to dance. James Murdoch is like Joel Kroeker with lap steel, or Don Henley with less dirty laundry. In short, In Transit is an 18-carat wonder. (Indica/Aquarius) - Exclaim! Magazine


EDMONTON - James Murdoch has every right to be angry.

Like a commuter stuck in a two-hour traffic jam on the snow-covered streets of Edmonton, the rootsy pop musician endured his share of exasperating -- and terrifying -- obstacles en route to his just-released second album, In Transit.

The Yukon native suffered three severed ribs, a collapsed lung and a broken hand when an unknown assailant attacked him in Vancouver. He survived four blown alternators and a seized engine on various tours across Canada. To add insult to injury -- and mounting repair bills -- Murdoch was forced to record three versions of In Transit before his label, Indica, signed off on it.

You'd think the finished record, co-produced by folk/rock artist Hawksley Workman, would be filled with vitriol. Most musicians would be tempted to let such personal and professional setbacks sour their songs.

It takes a special sort, such as Murdoch, to channel these frustrations into an album of supple beauty. There's the occasional biting lyric, but his songs are couched in comforting layers of horns, pianos, banjos and warm, soft vocals.

Get What You Deserve, the first single, chimes with Henley-esque guitars. Kings and Queens is a wistful, whispery number along the lines of Crowded House, while Blindsided is a soft, intoxicating ballad and the only leftover from In Transit's first incarnation.

"I used to be the most impatient person, always getting angry and getting myself in trouble," says Murdoch.

"I do not do that anymore.

"After the first version was shot down, I had to make a decision -- do I continue to take (Indica's) money, appease them and make a record or do I just walk away? That's when I decided, 'Zen. Just chill out.' "

The Journal talked to the local musician/producer about his three recording attempts, Workman and honesty.

Q: What did the first two versions of In Transit sound like?

The first time, we went up to Whitehorse and worked with (Blue Rodeo producer) John Whynot. I was obsessed with The Band -- I still am -- so we wanted to make a loose, raw record. That's what I told the label I was going to do, they never questioned me, but as soon as they heard it, they went, "Aww, it's raw and loose and it sounds like The Band." They didn't like that.

Finally, I was convinced to take those songs and make slicker versions of them, which I did here in Edmonton, on my own (at Norwood Studio). We sped up the songs, made it more pop. They still didn't like it. They didn't hear a single on it.

This is when I said, "Look, we're basically going to stop working together or here's a list of people I'll work with and make the record for a third time. AND we're doing it next week because this has been three years of waiting around." It was really frustrating, but it did lead to this record.

Q: You've worked as a producer on several albums by local artists. What was it like for you to work with another producer?

Both Hawksley and I had a hard time dealing with that, but it was still great. He told me he had never really dealt with anybody who had known what they were doing before. We had this engineer, Andre Wahl, and the three of us could not work together at the same time. It was really weird -- we never got anything done. It was like we were trying to outdo each other. ... So what we ended up doing was Andre and Hawksley would work together, Hawksley and I would work together, and I cut all the vocals with Andre. Then there were five days when I was by myself, so I just threw down tons of ideas and then I was willing to hear, "I don't really like that and this is why."

Q: In hindsight, what do you think was missing from your first two versions of the album?

I think, to (the label), it came down to the songs. This version is even more honest. My songwriting really developed in the last year or so, especially lyrically. I decided to quit being so lazy with my lyrics and make every line count.

Q: What inspired Get What You Deserve?

The term could be really vindictive, but to me, I'm singing the song to myself. It's all about missed opportunities or 'shoulda, woulda couldas." I'm still tormented about being really mean to this girl in Grade 7 -- one verse is about that.

Q: It sounds like this album is much more autobiographical than your first, Between the Lines.

I just became really self-conscious of the fact that I felt like a fake -- I didn't feel like I was really saying anything (with those songs.) I really wanted to define myself and be taken seriously as an artist, not just some pop, blond-haired kid ...

It's also just been a crazy bunch of years -- you know, I was beaten up in Vancouver. I was so inspired after it happened. The guy could've killed me and I just felt so amazing to be alive. Over the last year, I've only really come to terms with the whole picture. - Edmonton Journal


Discography

2001 - Polyphonic (Independent release)
2004 - Between The Lines (Indica/Aquarius)
2007 - In Transit (Indica/Aquarius)
2009 - Wondering Where the Rush Has Gone (Shameless)

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Bio

Hailing from the frozen Yukon territory, James Murdoch brings you beautifully crafted, heart-warming songs that are a spectacular blend of roots wrapped in pop sensibility that highlight his powerful vocal talent.
James is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and has recorded 4 solo records.
James is also highly regarded as a producer having recorded many artists including Portland's Amy Seeley, Canada's Wheat Pool and rising Nashville star, Adam Gregory.
In 2003 James signed with Montreal based, Indica/Aquarius Records.
He has performed all over North America, from New York, Nashville and L.A. to his home town of Whitehorse Yukon.
James is equally at home on stage either solo, duo or with his full band.
His record, In Transit, was recorded in 2008 with Canadian superstar, Hawksley Workman.
It has since received high praise from press and public alike. Exclaim Magazine calls it, "An 18 Carat Wonder".
In Transit was nominated for 3 Western Canadian Music Awards in 2008.
James released a new album in the spring of 2009, "Wondering Where The Rush Has Gone".
He has toured the album relentlessly including 2 official concerts as part of the 2010 Winter Olympics where he garnered many fans from all over the globe.
James is currently in the studio, in pre-production of his next CD which will be out in April 2011.
The record is an organic, "live off the floor" capture of James' songs. It has a very "rootsy" feel, not overly produced, in the vein of Jason Collette, Amos Lee and Blue Rodeo.