Just as in the movies, it seems like as an artist of any field spends some time releasing new materials, creativity get lost in time and they just get stuck. We see this in movie sagas or franchises where by the third film or so it’s like there’s nowhere to push the boundaries anymore and only get a rehash of the same thing over and over again. In music, musicians tends to dive into new genres to stay fresh, sometimes this works out but then other times, it’s clear the plan doesn’t go that well.
Chris Murphy might go through all this dilemma, with his fifth album under its belt the title could easily read as a subliminal message behind the writing and production process of this record, it’s first completely solo album. Hard Bargain kicks off in a pretty interesting way as we are literally introduced to Murphy by a host, we get a few minutes of awesome, celtic-esque violin filling the room with melodies that seems to got out of an epic series like Game of Thrones. Next up, the title track follows the same tone as its predecessor, a direct follow up in pretty much every sense.
Things does change a bit by the time we get over to “Bugs Salcido”, this is a rather more sober song that feels almost like Folk. The live audience can be heard from time to time on this record, this helps gives a nice touch to the song and if you get yourself lost in the sound you will feel as if you were in a tavern or a pub.
There’s not too much negative things to report, the album definitely has its flows. You really gotta love the way Chris’ vocals blends with the strings instruments, though for me it gets to a point where I would have wished he brought some other members to back him up and help increase the power of the songs. At times, they felt really hollow for me, as if there was something missing.
Criteria - 70%
Overall, while the record it ain't for everybody. There are some great layers that many people can definitely catch on and enjoy - perhaps those in love with old school, Country and Roots, strings driven music. Those will surely enjoy this record. But those rather seeking for loud, modern sounds, unfortunately, you will might want to move on to other stuff.