Jenna Murphy - The EP
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: Feb. 1, 2013
New Jersey singer-songwriter Jenna Murphy keep things simple. Her latest EP bears a gnomic title (The EP) and is tucked away inside a neatly folded cardboard square. This type of humility will serve Murphy going well, especially considering how deeply affecting The EP truly is.
The album opens with the quiet and stoic "Oh Eureka!," a ruminative and intimate affair that placidly pines the depths of love in a way that is equal parts poetic, polished and breathtaking. Strings can be faintly heard in the background and the entire thing feels elegiac, symphonic and cinematic. Though it is a decidedly sleepy way to open a disc the power and gravity at work on "Oh Eureka!" hit like a suckerpunch and prove that in just six sweet minutes, Murphy is more than capable of writing a first-rate composition.
The introspective and subdued "Blackest of Blues" is arguably the album's most accessible, immediate and commercial, but clocking in at almost five minutes it's a bit lengthy to be passed around to larger markets. That being written, it is arguably one of the best breakup songs written this year and has a weight and worth that knows no limits. Crystalline is one of the first words that comes to mind when describing Murphy as a singer, but the term could also crossover to her lyrics and song structures as well. Everything about the arrangements and the effort is air-tight and belies her age.
Nowhere are those traits more apparent than on the near eight-minute epic "Like a Tree Loses Leaves," a layered piano affair that rises and crests with a force that would make Sara Bareilles blush. Murphy has a classical piano background but doesn't rely on that as a crutch. But on "Like a Tree Loses Leaves," she unleashes and lets the ivories do all the heavy lifting. While "Like a Tree Loses Leaves" is worthy of the highest praise, it's a lot to ask a listener to take the time after two songs that clocked in at six and five minutes respectively. Rather than close out The EP with the sprite and vernal "Given Up," Murphy should have pushed "Like a Tree Loses Leaves" to the back and let it close things out. That small gripe aside, there's little else to complain about. Murphy is a seasoned pro who makes music effortlessly and with little signs of inexperience. In sum, she's a born natural and the strength of all four of these tracks proves exactly that.