‘Sleep Tonight’ is the second album to be released by Belfast singer-songwriter Robb Murphy. The twelve track LP displays a level of maturity and consistency that Murphy’s first album ‘Take a Stand’ lacked. After listening to ‘Sleep Tonight’ it is difficult to place Murphy in any particular niche. There are elements of pop, folk, classical and country music that he fuses together to varying degrees in his music. All of these influences are no doubt due to Murphy’s background as a producer and engineer, and result in an inimitable style all of his own.
Murphy has taken a different approach to that of his self-produced debut album by using more acoustic instruments and by involving another recording engineer in the process. The strongest feature this time around is Murphy’s ability to write memorable, heartfelt lyrics. The use of simple melodies and harmonies emphasises this. These features are immediately apparent with the album’s opening track The Darker Side. There is a sense of vulnerability to Murphy’s voice which is initially accompanied by just an acoustic guitar. Later more instruments and voices are gradually added, aptly creating a dreamlike quality to the song which speaks of fighting “nightmares”.
However there are one or two small moments on the album where the lyrics feel clumsy and do not sit quite right. For example in the song When Love Is Tangled Between Friends, the phrase “I hope it will learn you to heal,” stands out as it is repeated a number of times, drawing attention to itself. Fortunately it does not detract from the overall impression of the song but nonetheless is noticeable.
To Be A Fool encourages people to take chances and it’s lyrics are easy to relate to. What is notable about this track is the blend of instruments and the arrangement of the instrumental parts which include a string quartet. In contrast to the calm reassuring track previously heard, the tempo quickens for The Mysteries Of The Heart, a quirky fusion of Nashville country music and pop (which has recently been released as a single).
The relatively short Headstrong is one of those infectiously fun, catchy tunes that will have you smiling and singing along before you know it. Coffee And Tea is another upbeat song that tells the story of two people with differing personalities who share an “ionic bond”. A jazzy trumpet riff and a cha cha cha style beat add a lightness to the sense of hopeful, nervous energy in the song.
The final song is the titular Sleep Tonight which was written during a storm while Murphy was staying in Italy. Sleep Tonight is pensive yet optimistic, making a perfect concluding number.
‘Sleep Tonight’ has a positive, hopeful feel to it. It is one of those albums that you will find yourself putting on loop, to listen to as a means of winding down from a long stressful day.
‘Sleep Tonight’ is due for release on the 20 March 2015 and can be pre-ordered here.