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Elliott Murphy and Iain Matthews -- La Terre Commune

Elliott Murphy and Iain Matthews — La Terre Commune

While neither Elliott Murphy nor Iain Matthews have made much of a lasting mark on the Top 40 charts of the past three decades, they're still well enough known in their respective fields that the thought of the two of them recording an album together isn't one that springs readily to mind.

Long Island-born, Paris-based Elliott Murphy has influenced, and been influenced by, everyone from Lou Reed to Bruce Springsteen to the Violent Femmes. Associated with the art rock scene of Patti Smith and the New York Dolls in the '70s, Murphy turned to writing in recent years, penning articles for Spin and Rolling Stone, while continuing to record.

Iain Matthews has followed the acoustic folk tradition, performing both solo and in six bands of his own creation, including Plainsong and Matthews Southern Comfort. It was his manager in fact, who first suggested that he consider doing an album with Murphy, in 1992, but it wasn't until a chance meeting at SXSW in Austin that the idea began to fully take hold.

I think a lot of people are going to be glad it did. Murphy's world-weary voice evokes the immediacy of Leonard Cohen, his arrangements are big, groovy and melancholy. Matthews offers an effective counterpoint with his smooth vocals and seasoned optimism. Best of all, both Murphy and Matthews stand to be embraced by a whole new generation of listeners.

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