Soulful Folk

La Terre Commune
Elliott Murphy & Iain Matthews (Eminent)

By William Bartley

La Terre Commune, French for common ground, is a full of poignant folk grooves with wisps of Americana transplant. The album is the first collaboration between Elliot Murphy and Iain Matthews. Each has had his day in the spotlight (Matthews as founding member of the acclaimed Fairport Convention and Murphy of 21, whose records include Aquashow, one of the most critically-acclaimed albums of the 1970s). Now both have come together to create this fine recording.

Matthews and Murphy each wrote four originals for the album, then selected five covers to rework. The album sometimes shakes like Keith Richards's French chalet with its big bass drum sounds and the raspy vocal harmonies of Murphy and Matthews. It twists and ducks lyrically like a love struck prize-fighter fumbling around the ring. The tones and style of the recording often suggest that Tom Waits and REM owe a bit to these two. Yet there is also no doubt these two owe something to Bob Dylan for whom they pay tribute by covering his "Blind Willie McTell."

Both Mathews and Murphy compliment one another throughout the disk while trading guitar lines and harmonies. They split the spotlight confidently, and, on "Big Umbrella," sing line for line together perfectly throughout the entire tune.

Common ground is certainly something the two seek and find in La Terre Commune. It is a wonderful pairing of two talented and important musician/songwriters that will certainly make friends with fans of the adult album alternative radio programming format around the country.