Album: Mighty Gates
Label: Self Released
Mighty Gates is class from start to finish, and to understand how this is possible you just need to take a quick glance at Shaun Murphy's resume.
As a young woman in 1969 Murphy found her way to the Blues stage at the first Ann Arbor Blues Fest, and was completely smitten. Music had captivated her and she felt she had truly found her calling. After a brief stint on Broadway she then had the opportunity to land a recording contract on Motown Records to record a duo album with Meatloaf, called Stoney and Meatloaf. After many years in LA Shaun was invited to record and tour with Bob Seger and during a hiatus with Seger, she was in turn asked if she’d be interested in recording the backing vocals on Eric Clapton’s ‘Behind The Sun’ album. They recorded the the album, and Clapton asked her if she'd like to do the tour.
It was on Bob Seger’s tour in ’86 that she then met Bill Payne and Fred Tackett, two of the members of the legendary band Little Feat. After recording on the re-grouped band’s CD, ' Let It Roll ', they asked her to join as a full member in 93’, and for the next fifteen years that's where she laid her hat. It was after this stint with Little Feat that Shaun realized she'd come full circle back to where it all started, in the world of the Blues. Since that time she has been awarded the Bluesblast Music Awards, ' Best Female Blues Artist Of The Year ', ' Best Contemporary Blues Album Of The Year ' for her release ' Ask For The Moon ', as well as being nominated for three Grammy awards. So with all that in mind you realize, from the very first bars of the opening song, to the last outro on the album, why this recording has class stamped all over it.
Penning seven of the thirteen tracks, with co-writes, and choosing some favourite artists tracks on the remainder there is an amazing emotionally charged theme throughout, from the opener ' I Don't Need Nobody ' to the final song ' I Never Loved You ', both with extremely hooky lines and wonderful guitar riffs, underpinned by some serious keyboard playing that carry the grooves along magnificently, there is an air of exploring love and pain. emotions that are experienced by us all, and sometimes both come hand in hand.
' Gypsy Highway ' deserves special mention, it's a track co written with Johnny Neel and Doug Jones, if there was ever a track to be called hit single, this is it, a fabulous guitar intro, some amazingly exquisite keyboard riffs trading off clean and heartfelt guitar licks, held together and carried along by a strong rhythm section, add to the mix the impeccable vocal delivery of Shaun Murphy, the word class again comes to mind. and you can multiply that by thirteen.
The title track ' Mighty Gates ', a Dobie Gray and Ricky Ray song brought to Murphy over five years ago, has an extremely foresightful message contained within and is a perfect fit for the troubled times we are living in today.
With an incredible pedigree spanning a couple of decades Shaun Murphy has come up with something very special indeed, incredible penmanship, sublime placement of tracks, amazing arrangements throughout, ' Mighty Gates ' has it all and will surely deliver more awards to this amazing artists table, it definitely has my vote.