Flame Still Burns
Vision Wall Records
A young Shaun Murphy found work in the theater eventually leading to a Motown recording contract. Her first album was a collaborative effort with Meatloaf on the Rare Earth subsidiary. Murphy toured as a backing singer for both Bob Seger and Eric Clapton. Murphy met Bill Payne and Fred Tackett of Little Feat and appeared on the re-grouped band’s 1988 comeback album “Let It Roll”. She was later asked to join Little Feat as a full-time member. Some of Murphy’s performances with Little Feat are captured on 1996’s “Live from Neon Park”.
After spending nearly 16 years with Little Feat, Murphy finally broke from the band in 2009 to record her debut solo album “Livin’ The Blues”. In the liner notes Murphy wrote “a tip of the hat to my most influential mentors Miss Koko Taylor and Miss Etta James who have shaped the world of blues into what it is today”. More albums followed, her resolve finally being acknowledged in 2013 when she received two Blues Blast Awards. Murphy has also received three Grammy nominations, and a 2017 Blues Music Award nomination for Traditional Blues Female Artist a.k.a. The Koko Taylor Award. Content with her achievements, Murphy continues to record blues, rock and soul. Always in search of good songs last year’s album, “Reason To Try”, was a collection of songs written by hometown friends; some of Nashville’s finest songwriters.
This is Murphy’s eighth studio album and ninth recording overall. Vocalist Murphy fronts a band including Kenne Cramer and Tommy Stillwell, guitars; Eric Robert, Hammond B-3; Kevin McKendree, piano; and the rhythm section of bassist John Marcus, and drummer Tom Del Rossi. The album is co-produced by TC Davis and guitarist Cramer.
“Flame Still Burns” is a fourteen song collection of traditional and contemporary blues. Traditional selections include the opener “Living In The Palace Of The King”, co-written by Leon Russell, Don Nix, and Donald “Duck” Dunn, and recorded by Freddie King in 1971; Murphy makes the song her own as she is propelled by Stillwell’s screamin’ guitar. “Sweet Little Angel” can be traced back to a version first recorded by Lucille Bogan in 1930, also recorded by B.B. King in 1956, the version heard here is from Big Mama Thornton; Murphy’s intense vocal highlighted by the twin guitars, and keyboardists Robert and McKendree. Murphy’s other selections include “I Can’t Quit You” written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Otis Rush in 1956; “Cry For Me Baby” recorded by Elmore James in 1957; “Little By Little” recorded by Junior Wells in 1960; and Jerry Ragovoy’s soulful 1966 “Stay With Me” waxed by Lorraine Ellison. 1972’s “Man Sized Job” is from Denise LaSalle.
Contemporary selections include the danceable “Soul Shake”, recorded by Delanie and Bonnie in 1970, and performed by Murphy as a vocal duet with Stillwell. Murphy’s rockin’ version of “Love Me Like A Man” written and recorded by Chris Smither in 1970, and popularized two years later by Bonnie Raitt. Murphy’s passionate version of Greg Allman’s “It’s Not My Cross To Bear” recorded by the Brothers in 1970; “Ain’t Got No Money” recorded by Bob Seger in 1978; her intimate interpretation of “Old Love” written by Eric Clapton and Robert Cray, and included on Clapton’s 1989 album “Journeyman”; and a fabulous version of the Cate Brothers “Am I Losing You” from 1995. Murphy closes with country artist Charlie Rich’s bluesy “Don’t Put No Headstone On My Grave” recorded in 1986, and featuring McKendree on piano.
Murphy was first inspired by the blues when she attended the 1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival. All of those performers who played that festival are now gone. Murphy is inspired as she delivers this comprehensive collection.