Proving that it is possible to take past musical traditions and fashion them into very contemporary sounding work, Robb’s songs seem both familiar and fresh, very much of the now, yet timeless. Based around a lilting, spacious, acoustic base he adds modern pop vibes and nu-folk cool to the layer cake of moods and styles. Operating in a world akin to, but often not necessarily interchangeable with the one inhabited by Damien Rice, Robb’s flights of fancy often find him pushing out towards wider, more eclectic territories, where a country groove, bluesy harmonica or the resonating tones of a trumpet provide the perfect vehicle to get the message across.
And like his fellow Irishman, poetic and emotive lyricism is also the order of the day, tugging heartstrings and philosophising about the day-to-day emotions that we are all familiar with. But where Rice seems to be in a constant state of emotional agony, tearing at his tortured soul for understanding, Robb seems to inhabit a more positive place, or at least one that accepts the downside of life, love and loss with wistful acceptance.
For me it is songs such as Headstrong that really bring home his strengths, quirky grooves, sweeping strings and an upbeat country-folk bounce that smacks wonderful and unexpectedly of the indie-roots chic of the likes of The Decembrists. But whether drooling over the intimacy of the mellow end of his musical canon or jiving around to the infectious beats of his more driven works, Robb Murphy is a name that you will be hearing a lot more of.