“Works of art are infinitely solitary and nothing is less likely to reach them than criticism.
Only love can grasp them and hold them..."
-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Review of "Lay My Weary Head" by the meditative music blog Music Dances When You Sleep (published 10/21/2020):
"If you're an avid reader of our blog, you will know that vocals are often a spook to us, even more so if they are lyric-infused. While that remains true, some artists hit that sweet spot where not only does it not bother us, but sweeps us off the ground as well. Jason Murray's "Lay My Weary Head" is exactly the kind of vocal-driven, lyrical track and more.
Intricately intersecting at classical, folk and rock, the composition is a charmer like few. The somewhat medievalesque melody delivered by the most soothing of male voices is telling a story of trial, failure and resilience. Complimented by a masterfully played acoustic guitar, as well as deep string bass and and an occasional choir, the composition speaks volumes for artist's musical capabilities, as well as his pure, honest nature of self.
A little bit Simon & Garfunkel, a bit medieval, a bit Beatles, a bit like nothing we have ever heard, here's "Lay My Weary Head""
From review of "Invisible Warmth" by My Nguyen, of indie music website Divide and Conquer (published 3/27/2020):
"Jason Murray is a singer/songwriter based in Boulder, CO. He is releasing his debut album entitled Invisible Warmth. The record is his first full-length solo album, consisting of a collection of songs written between 2015-2018 and recorded in 2019. The album is a testament to his hard work over the course of the last few years...
With his heart on his sleeve, Murray bares-all.. Invisible Warmth opens up with “Antlers” where a sonorous display on the acoustic guitar launches... This is mainly an acoustic track with real resonating elements. Murray’s vocals are soothing and have a soft lilting quality. This is a real dynamic song. A strong sense of urgency underlines this dramatic track. The acoustic guitar melodies come across as beatific.
Following is “Lay My Weary Head,” where noodling on the acoustic guitar starts off this song. The sound is moving and dynamic. Choral harmony layers propel this track with a celestial and unearthly vibe. Some real ethereal and soaring tones pervades. Murray’s vocals come across as angelic. The song has an old-timey vibe that harkens to a Medieval-like minstrel tune. The track mainly contains solely the acoustic guitar alone supporting the vocals. Combined vocal harmonies add a disarming feel.
An announcement launches toward the start of “End Of The World” adding an ominous element. Percussion and dynamic strumming from the acoustic guitar give off a pressing cadence. This is a dramatic song bursting with a fully charged vibe. The percussion really propels this track. Guitar riffs give off a ghostly and airy sound. A real stirring song. Murray collaborates with Meredith Wilder on this track and their vocals duel it out in an excellent foray. The vocals elicit an exciting cadence. This is a definite highlight.
On “Dressed And Ready,” an upbeat and catchy melody courses through the reverberating tones of the acoustic guitar... An energized vibe is harnessed. The song contains some invigorating melodic riffs. The track has a real cool and smooth bluesy lounge appeal with a jazzy flourish. A bongo solo gives off a compelling stance.
In the singer/songwriter vein, these heartfelt tracks reverberate with a warmth and inventiveness that makes them both startling and inviting at the same time. Murray sings at a standpoint of sheer emotion. With vocals and lyrics filled with range and flair, the artist stoutly incorporates riveting musicianship into the number. At the core of these tracks is the acoustic guitar. Underlining the soft and soothing vocals, the expert playing on the rhythm guitar has a voice of its own. Murray’s deft playing is instrumental in honing a sound that is brimming with warmth and effusiveness.
Though on the production end these songs were slightly lo-fi, these bedroom recordings provided many an intimate performance that made them stand out with a striking sense of urgency. I felt these guitar-centered tracks were really moving and otherworldly. Their soft lilting qualities really made them magical and ethereal. As the album progressed, I grew to appreciate each song’s simplicity yet heart-wrenching emotional quality. These songs were simply arresting filled with an out-of-world appeal that made them that much more extraordinary."
Interview with Jason by the indie music website Divide and Conquer (published 4/21/2020)
Jason Murray Interview
Q: Can you talk about your musical history?
A: My passion for music started when I began playing guitar at age 13. It was the mid-nineties, music from the Seattle grunge scene was still pervading airwaves, and it had a deep impact on me. But early on, in terms of my own music, my interest was more in becoming a progressive-rock guitarist. I was really drawn to Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai and bands like Dream Theater.
That musical focus changed towards the end of high school. Around that time Soundgarden discontinued and Chris Cornell put out his first solo album Euphoria Mourning. I discovered Radiohead’s The Bends and Jeff Buckley’s Grace. I really loved the vulnerability and appreciation for beauty I found in that music. It had the soul-searching of grunge, but without so much of the stylistic aggression. Since that time the singer/songwriter has felt like my real musical home.
Q: Who are some of your influences? Musical or otherwise.
A: Definitely my most fundamental influence has been Jeff Buckley. So much of how I approach music comes from having spent countless hours listening to him when I was younger, and learning about his life/philosophy. The inventive voicings he’d use on the guitar, the organic flowing structure in his songwriting and arrangements, and his vulnerability as a vocalist/lyricist all had a massive formative influence on me. He also inspired me to dig more deeply into music of the past and diversify what I listened to. So much of what I perceive to be his musical philosophy has long since become embedded in my psyche, such as his approach of letting the emotion of a song dictate its structure in a supple, adventurous way. He broadened my musical horizons on so many levels. I felt the need to go back and listen to Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk a lot while recording the album, as I feel like you can really hear him working so hard to try and make sense of his life on it. His dedication and bravery to be genuine is perhaps more than anything what I take from his legacy.
Sarah McLachlan’s Surfacing had a major impact on me with how incredibly sincere and heartfelt it is. It’s one of the most beautifully realized and complete albums I’ve ever heard. Ani DiFranco’s Up Up Up was also a major influence, with her amazingly poignant lyrics and portraits of people. Chris Cornell, especially his later solo work like Higher Truth, has been a huge influence. His freedom, genuineness, and mastery as a songwriter/vocalist were a miracle. Peter Gabriel has also been a massive influence, particularly his later solo albums like Ovo and Up. The spiritual and humanitarian vision in his music is so powerful and inspiring.
More recent influences have been amazing songwriters in the Boulder music scene, such as Meredith Wilder, ELMR, Theresa Peterson, Pamela Machala, Guatevoe and Foxfeather. I’m sure that list will keep getting longer, as I’m still pretty new to Colorado.
Q: What are some of the themes and topics you explore on Invisible Warmth?
A: I would say main themes of the album include love, loneliness, healing and personal transformation.
A lot of the songs are love songs, which were largely written while in college or doing work in political research. I wasn’t in a relationship when I wrote any of them, but writing them was a way for me to acknowledge how important love is to me. There’s a lot of social pressure to achieve and be successful, but at the end of the day those things don’t fulfill us on a deep level, and can easily become a tremendous obstacle to our connecting with what really matters. Songwriting has been a space for me to be soft and recollect what’s most important, which is very often love, and is reflected a lot in the album.
“Lay My Weary Head” relates more particularly to the experience of trauma, and “End of a World” was written very much in response to our climate crisis. The old folk song “Shenandoah” appealed to me in the way it seems to quietly combine a love story with feelings of admiration for traditional indigenous ways of life and loss for the attempted destruction of them. I can’t help but read the song along those lines, anyway.
Q: Can you talk about your creative process?
A: I always find the songwriting process unpredictable and full of surprises. Usually when I get the idea to write a song, I’ve been struggling with something in my life, and writing the song is part of an effort to shift into a kind of new way of being to deal with that challenge - such as by being more open, or vulnerable, or loving.
I’m not very prolific, and when I do write a song, I usually focus on it a lot for a few days until it’s done. I find that when I’m writing a song I’m kind of cornering myself to embody the meaning of what needs to be felt, expressed and understood at that point in my life. Songwriting isn’t something I necessarily look forward to, but often part of the process of me trying to come out the other end of a problem. Growing can be painful sometimes, but you’re glad you did it, and there doesn’t seem to be a worthwhile alternative to it anyway.
Q: I thought it was great you worked with an engineer. What was that experience like?
A: It was great! My recording engineer, Meredith Wilder, is also one of my all-time best friends. I don’t know if I could have even made the album without her help.
While I had wanted to make an album for a long time, I was long held back by the feeling that I couldn’t afford it, or lacked the technological know-how, or by flat out low self-esteem. Meredith provided powerful antidotes to all of those obstacles. She was extremely generous with her time - basically working for slave wages - she painstakingly engineered the foundation of the album while I slowly got my bearings using Ableton, and most of all she was a great friend during the process who made me feel like I had something of value to offer with the album. Being able to work with someone who I really trust and who’s music I admire was a major blessing.
As well as being a friend, Meredith has been one of my greatest creative collaborators, and always someone I can bounce ideas around with.
Major shout out to Tommy Von as well, who gave massive and generous help with showing me how to use my home studio setup.
Q: What else should we know about your music?
A: My music isn’t all that important to me. It’s more like a training ground for what really matters. But as far as work goes, I’d rather be doing music.