Heather Lynne Horton “Don’t Mess with Mrs. Murphy” – Full Review

July 4, 2017 | By

“Don’t Mess with Mrs. Murphy” — Uncomfortably Honest in the Most Perfect of Ways

Guest review by : Heather Cook Scala

To understand why this record is so very important to Heather Lynne Horton, one must first understand her history. From birth, music has given meaning to her life; oftentimes in an all-consuming form. Horton co-founded Chicago Americana rock band, The Westies, with her husband, singer-songwriter Michael McDermott and spent the years that followed touring endlessly, embracing music in every facet of her life and ultimately being offered the opportunity to record what was set to be her breakout record ‘Postcard Saturdays’. As the album release drew closer Horton learned she and Murphy were going to be parents and the birth of their daughter, Willie, drew Murphy into a new, blissful chapter of her life, and her solo-record was put on the shelf.

Over the years, the pull of desire to create her own body of music became stronger, and Horton quietly began tracking demos in their basement while Murphy recorded upstairs. With the success of The Westies had come questions from industry professionals about Heather – whatever became of her solo material? Did she want to make a record? The idea was put forth to friends and fans and out of their excitement was born a very successful crowd funding campaign – a campaign which allowed Horton to gather the resources necessary to create the musical body of work she had always envisioned – Don’t Mess With Mrs. Murphy.

“You try to bite me but I’m made of metal”

Don’t Mess With Mrs. Murphy navigates the landscape of Horton’s life with vulnerable strength that comes from a woman who has always been comfortable expressing sentiments from which others shy away.
It’s easy to go about our daily lives and never speak a word about the things we hold inside. Too often our truth remains hidden in our core. As humans, we take measures to edit down the things that stir deep emotion within us because… well … sometimes the truth hurts; it’s not always comfortable and sharing it with the world makes us vulnerable. This is what is so compelling about Heather Horton’s song writing – she is completely open, honest and exposed, and from this vulnerability she pulls forth an awesome power that engages and inspires the listener, drawing them into her experiences and causing them to think about their own. Many of these songs are like finally having a conversation with someone you didn’t realize understood so much about the things that keep you up at night.

“Romeo, this aint your fault; Dear God, I asked you to…”

The record begins with ‘Murphys Law’, a rhythmic and melodic auto-biographical ode to knowing someone is wrong for you, but falling headfirst in love with them anyway. “Wheelchair Man” from the perspective of the plight of a disabled man, demonstrates Horton’s ability to put herself in the shoes of another, going deep within the realm of the uncomfortable empathy he experiences daily and telling his side of the story with delicate, mournful grace. “FU” is a tongue-in-cheek tune, inspired by everything from lingering seductresses to the American administration, all tied together with the familiar expletive that Murphy says she “found solace in saying aloud” while Michael was on tour in 2016. “Flesh and Blood” is a sad shake of the head toward the division of our society and our tendency to turn our backs as we allow companies and ideologies to tear us down and divide us. Bringing the record to a beautiful close, we are treated to a surprise cover of “You’re the One that I Want” featuring husband Michael; their chemistry palpably obvious, even in recorded form.

“I am lost and bewildered from a lack of nutrition since they took you from me”

Of course, all of this honesty would simply be poetry if it weren’t set to a compelling, lush musical landscape and Horton does not disappoint. Her sweet voice floats around her songs, at times sounding like she is both far away and right beside you. From the rolling drums in ‘Murphy’s Law’ to the delicate guitar in ‘Save the Rain’, to the subtle electric distortion in ‘Boomerang’, each note in Murphy’s record acts as a puzzle piece, connecting you, one note at a time, to the most intensely personal music she has ever created.

Don’t Mess with Mrs. Murphy is uncomfortably honest in the most perfect of ways. It is a refreshing reminder to crack through the veneer of normalcy that we all cover up with and let ourselves be brave in our vulnerability. Her strength and passion shine clearly through.

Don’t Mess with Mrs. Murphy is available everywhere July 7th

Heather Cook Scala writes about music & community
for Lifted Frequencies .

 

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Category: Record Reviews

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