Title - 'House Of Mumurs'
Artist - JL Stiles
San Francisco’s JL Stiles late last year released a new LP, House of Murmurs, and it is still today making waves within the music industry.
Stiles, who also plays in local ragtime band Hobo Paradise, blends retro pop, folk, and rock on the album, and brings some fantastically-talented musicians along for the ride.
The album begins with the jazzy upbeat 'All In A Day,' a song that is just the most perfect introduction to this mans vocal tone and love for layered instruments. After that the prolific San Francisco singer/songwriter brings us the bouncy fun of 'Spring Light of Day,' before heading into the more somber 'Song Beside My Grave.' Recorded in his apartment and mixed with his pal Phil "Philbillie" Milner in San Francisco, the song resonates within you long after hearing it.
Having spent time with Andrew Borger (Norah Jones, Ani DiFranco) on the album has certainly given it some depth of quality. But what is more interesting is that Stiles dedicates the album to Seth Koller and Michael Morrison, who both sadly passed away recently.
Indeed, the next track, 'Frostbite Falls' is about Mike, who died last year after a few years of a slow and inexplicable descent into paralysis. And as this album took a year and a half to come to fruition, the sheer quality of each song is a testament to Stiles and his dedication to each track. The song just-mentioned seemingly quivers with a vibe that brings a frosty scene directly to our minds. The chimes and such playing their parts to perfection.
The drums lead us into the funky 'Beneath The Light,' before the most emphatic, simply rousing song of the entire collection, the inspiring 'The Great Natchez Tornado of 1840.' Up next is 'Movin',' a song about the other departed friend in Stiles' life, Seth. He was one of his students who died at age 16 in a tragic accident along Highway 1 near Half Moon Bay. With vocals shared by Emily Schmidt the song is yet another standout arc of storytelling.
Up next is the poignant 'Leaf In The Snow,' before the album comes to a close with 'After The War,' a track made all the more sincere by the use of constrained trumpet care of Doug Ellington, the quietly-told 'Simple Faith,' and then finally with a little flamenco-styled Mariachi band guitar work on 'Afterthought.' Giving a "special thanks" to Stephen Namara, who generously allowed the usage of his painting for the cover, this new album from JL Stiles is a musical masterpiece that we should be giving thanx to him for.