I'm Not the Same
By Sincerely, Iris
Review by Roy Peak
One of my favorite musical surprises from a few years back was an EP titled The License Plate Sessions by musician Todd Murray, who goes under the moniker Sincerely, Iris. Dark, swirling, and moody—the songs written and played bottle-neck style on a four-string guitar made from the license plate of one of Murray's cars—they grabbed ahold of me and wouldn't let go. A few years have passed since then, and now from Sincerely, Iris we get I'm Not the Same, a full length release with plenty of dark and distorted tones, mournful vocals, and some rather majestic passages.
All of Murray's releases seem to have a common thread running through them. Someone is running away from darkness, into (hopefully) redemption. Murray's characters might not know where they're running to, or often times even why they're running, but they're running nonetheless, headlong into whatever fate awaits them, or just as often, away from a memory.
The first half of this album is modern blues, gritty and heartfelt, fueled by the license plate guitar, a tone of dark mystery throughout. These are the songs that well up in you alone on a stormy highway, heat lightning in the air, driving fast and reckless, the trees like spirits as you fly on past. The title track growls and slithers satisfyingly. "Traveling Man" (probably my favorite on this album) turns standard blues tropes sideways with its smart and defiant wordplay wrapped around a 6/8 guitar figure. "Falling Backwards" is psychedelic folk, while "Revenge Blues" turns the skies darker before the next group of songs on the album open up as if the storm, so threatening before, is finally ready to break and wash away the world. The chorus of "Who Do You Love" hits just as the sun rises on your shoulder and then you drive effortlessly into the final song, "Not Goodbye, Goodnight," which closes the album out with a sunset drive through the states, turning the darker memories of before into fondness and longing and hope.
Sincerely, Iris knows how to arrange an album that feels like a journey, here's to the next one.
You can find I'm Not the Same by Sincerely Iris on all the usual digital platforms, directly from him at one of his many gigs, or at his website sincerelyiris.com. And hey, follow him on Facebook so you can check out his tour schedule and some of the many wonderful videos he posts!
Roy Peak has played electric bass in more bands than he cares to remember for more years than he can remember. He wrote the theme song for the Utica, New York radio show "Hey You Kids, Get Off My Lawn" on WPNR-FM. His solo debut album, All Is Well, has been called "Loud, cacophonous, and beautiful by a truly unique artist." His short fiction has been published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. He writes music reviews for The Rocking Magpie in the UK and King Tut Vintage Album Museum of Jacksonville.