Michael Fracasso, and Trish Murphy
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Oct. 19, 2001
Michael FracassoBack to Oklahoma (India)
Trish MurphyCaptured (Raven) Okay, it's true that Michael Fracasso and Trish Murphy are very different in the broad category of singer-songwriter. Yet, they're both beloved artists in the Austin music scene, with dedicated and well-deserved followings. Coincidentally, they've both released collections of songs that are very similar in concept and execution. Captured and Back to Oklahoma are live recordings with acoustic settings that shine a bright and welcome light on their talents as songsmiths and storytellers. Fracasso's represents one night in December 2000 at the Blue Door in Oklahoma City with his producer and friend Charlie Sexton adding guitars and occasional vocals. Murphy's was recorded during a series of shows this past June and July at Flipnotics and the Saxon Pub here in Austin, with just minimal backing of cello, mandolin, National guitar, and harp from a variety of local players, including her brother Darin. The admirable thing about each disc is that the in-performance recordings are warm, spirited, and inviting; fans of either artist are likely to feel as if they have Michael or Trish in the room with them. Both discs contain some of their best-known tunes and strong new songs as well. For Fracasso, that means the driving title track and longtime audience favorite (but never before recorded) "Save Her Love," along with the sweet tribute to Lucinda Williams,"Never Enough," and the Dylanesque ode, "1950s." The surprising thing about Captured is how well some of Murphy's tunes translate to quieter arrangements after being originally recorded with a full-on band. "Concession Stand Song" is positively riveting storytelling, while some of the psychedelic edge has been smoothed away from "Vanilla Sun," the song reworked into an ethereal mood piece. Of the five new songs on Captured, "The Trouble With Trouble" stands out for its playfulness, and in what's becoming a trademark for Murphy, a hooky chorus. Unlike other live recordings that seem to be a stopgap between studio outings, both these discs demonstrate that Murphy and Fracasso possess talents that continue growing, while admirably displaying their capacity to captivate an audience.