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Jessie Murphy in the Woods

While some might not be into the cutesy, fairytale-like sound and lyrics of the New York City pop-folk group Jessie Murphy in the Woods, there is no denying the magical harmony produced by the three talented women. These five tracks, a demo of their debut album Eight Belles, are a collaboration project lead by singer-songwriter Jessie Murphy (vocals and guitar) and featuring her friends Marcia Webb (vocals, Wurlitzer, flute and pan pipes) and Amy Stratton (horn, flute, percussion and organ). The trio of women, all music teachers in New York City, met at Columbia University in 2008 while pursuing a Master's degree in Music. Since then they have toured both North America and the United Kingdom.

Noted for their anti-folk style, the group tries to avoid the constraints of stereotypical, over-commercialized music with their unique instrumental and vocal sounds. With a sound less pop than similar artists, such as Au Revoir Simone and Feist, the album is a beautiful mixing of clear vocals, bells, pretty harmonies, and poetically melancholic lyrics. This combination creates an ethereal, magical, and at times, haunting quality that resonates throughout the album.

The five tracks on the album have lyrics about life, horses and love lost, especially the loss of child-like innocence, a literary theme that many can relate to. While I am more attracted to music with an edgier sound, I can appreciate Jessie Murphy in the Woods' talent. Their smooth, lullaby style makes this music an excellent soundtrack to my cooking with my dear friend and roommate Sylvia, who is a creative fiction writer and lover of fairytales.

Starting off with the sorrowful “New York City Lights,” the album continues with “In the Woods,” which invokes images of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is followed by the simplistic, pure acoustic sound of “God Save Owen Wilson.” Finishing off with their most popular songs “When I am a Horse Again” and “Eight Belles,” a eulogy to a horse that died in the 2008 Kentucky derby, the demo is a beautiful representation of the group’s songwriting and harmonies, and well worth a listen.

Written by: Abigail Chance, November 27th 2009

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