Nine new songs co-written by Murphy and guitarist Richard Llewellyn in a totally original idiom to create a contemporary acoustic classic, recorded with with double bass player Tim Harries, drummer Rowan Griffiths and trumpet player Tomos Williams. In a move away from her peerless traditional singing, the lyrics to LILAC TREE are personal and committed, the catalyst for much of the songwriting being the death of her father in 1999, to whom the work is dedicated.
In cult terms Murphy has already built up an impressive range of fans, Robert Plant recently asked her to record a duet with him for the latest "Afro Celt Sound System" release and Eliza Carthy announced in Mojo magazine that Julie Murphy was her favourite singer in the whole world.
Also by Julie Murphy:
Black Mountains Revisited (2002)
Whilia (with Fernhill)
1. Kiss Like That
2. My Father Was
3. Lilac Tree
4. Leave Him
5. My Church
6. Train (Going West)
7. Fighting for Strangers
8. Fasting Girl
9. Night Visit
10. Cilgerran (Glory of Love)
Things have been happening for Julie since the release of her acclaimed solo debut, Black Mountains Revisited. She has toured in support of Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, and worked with John Cale on a film called 'Beautiful Mistakes' by director Marc Evans. Julie sang 'The Farmer' from Black Mountains, accompanied by John Cale on piano. The film also features Cale collaborating with bands like Catatonia, Super Furry Animals and The Manic Street Preachers. Julie has toured Vietnam for the British Council, appeared as featured artist on the Radio 3 programme Mixing It in April, and was in conversation with Verity Sharp in BBC Music magazine in the same month. Also in April Julie collaborated with Kenyan musician Ayub Ogada at an event in London's Dome.
Fernhill's lead singer is Essex-born and grew up listening to Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder - 'normal teenage stuff' before graduating to an art-school punk band. Julie later moved to a Welsh-speaking village in the Teifi valley and was drawn into a lively Welsh music scene - also discovering her voice. In 1994 ex-Blowzabella mainstay Nigel Eaton asked Julie to partner him in a remarkable hurdy-gurdy and voice duo, Whirling Pope Joan (named after an old card game). The resulting album, Spin, was widely admired. Julie toured for the British Council in Pakistan and the Sudan, in partnership with Nigel Eaton and later with Andy Cutting. In 1996 Julie helped to create a new acoustic fourpiece - Fernhill - which quickly became known for its a highly original fusion of Welsh, English, Breton and other influences. Fernhill's three critically acclaimed albums Ca Nos, Llatai and Whilia followed, and in 1999 Julie released her first solo album Black Mountains Revisited (a Mojo magazine Folk Album of the Year). An extended interview with Julie appeared in the June 1999 issue of Folk Roots magazine, which also featured her as cover artist. Partnered by guitarist Dylan Fowler and fiddler Kate Ronconi-Woollard, Julie Murphy is now touring under her own name as well as with Fernhill.
'Why scour the globe for wonderful voices when there are singers such as Julie Murphy on the doorstep? Without the songs, though, a remarkable voice would only be half the battle. Sparsely arranged yet highly atmospheric, Lilac Tree is the golden-throated Murphy's giant leap forward, a beautifully flowing acoustic collection that draws much of its character from Tim Harries doing his Danny Thompson thing on bass. As with Kathryn Williams, the memory of Nick Drake looms large. And just like Williams's Little Black Numbers, this is an album that, from the sensual pull of the opening Kiss Like That onwards, has appeal way beyond the folk constituency'
Peter Kane, Q Magazine * * * *
MOJO FOLK ALBUM OF THE MONTH! (August 2002) 'By now we really shouldn't be surprised by anything that Julie Murphy delivers. In the past she has given us traditional material, Welsh language songs, and made bold excursions into world music... and now there is a first album of her own original material. And what is more, given her track record, we really shouldn't be surprised, either, that it's so very good. Murphy seems to have the Midas touch and while these songs - most co-written with Fernhill guitarist and singer Richard Llewellyn - are a slow burn, they gnaw away at you with instant guile. Her songwriting was apparently sparked by the death of her father, and the album recorded in a four-day frenzy of activity at the Dreamworld studios in Pembrokeshire. The result is a low-key album of understated passion and minimalist jazzy arrangements (an extraordinary arrangement of Fighting for Strangers)... Murphy is a class act who invests her songs with such an instinctively subtle gravitas you are drawn in before you know it. Deeply impressive.' - Colin Irwin, Mojo
'A fantastic album' - Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2
'As a singer she always seems to find hidden depths... a hugely committed and passionate record' - fROOTS
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