|Successful songwriters employ a range of techniques to create their art, often using poetic word play, real life storytelling, fantastical imagery colloquialisms and aphorisms. Acclaimed Texas singer songwriter Kathy Murray earned a Grammy nomination in 2020 for her songwriting skills, after establishing herself as a staple of the Austin music scene. Along with her band leader and partner, Bill Jones, and The Kilowatts, she employs an array of those tactics on their fifth album, “Fully Charged.” An energized collection of eleven new original songs and three fun-loving covers, the recording makes full use of familiar musical motifs spanning the spectrum of Texas styles of blues, country, swamp pop, Zydeco, soul, and rockabilly with new lyrical themes drawing inspiration from life, love, road stories and musical heroes of her beloved Lonestar state.
The classic Texas double shuffle ‘Expense Of Love’ kicks things off with Murray delivering a parable of regret that all should heed. The vaunted Texas Horns make the first of four guest spots on the hard driving ‘My Mistake,’ adding zest to the album. Murray has a little fun playing the bard of the blacktop for the road song sonnet ‘Changing Lanes.’
‘The House That Freddie Built’ details the years Texas Blues master Freddie King spent at the influential Texas music hall and beer garden in Austin, The Armadillo World Headquarters, and the scene of his final album the iconic “Larger Than Life.” Veteran session player Matt Farrell from the Los Flames delivers the barrelhouse piano on the Rocking ‘Get A Hold Of Yourself,’ and the Texas Horns add color to the bittersweet Doug Sahm/Texas Tornados styled ballad ‘Breakup Breakdown.’ Jones dishes up fine chicken pickin’ lead guitar on the easy funk burner ‘Henny Penny Blues.’
The melodramatic ‘Wash Away The Pain’ allows Murray to explore emotional depths and features a mournful tenor sax solo from Kaz Kazanoff. Murray and Jones take cues from Ronnie McDowell’s 1988 acoustic driven version of the Doc Pomus tune ‘Suspicion’ rather than the 1962 Elvis original. The rhythm section works the Elmore James groove while Jones solos on the jagged blues ‘Hard Act To Follow,’ and Murray spells her affection for her man on the swinging ‘Animal Magnetism.’ Accordion and washboard are the perfect spice to help The Kilowatts cook up a Tex-Mex rendering of the Tampa Red chestnut ‘It Hurts Me Too.’
Murray pays tribute to the Soul Queen of New Orleans covering ‘Anyone Who Knows What Love Is,’ recorded as the B-side to ‘Time Is On My Side’ by Irma Thomas in 1964, which has come to prominence in recent years due to occasional appearances in the television series “Black Mirror.” The candy-coated duet, ‘Extra Nice,’ closes the set encouraging us all to “pour on the sugar and bring on the spice,” to get through tough times.
With the release of “Fully Charged,” Texas troubadours Kathy Murray and Bill Jones add another fine milestone in their 37 years leading The Kilowatts and doing Austin proud.
Rick J Bowen
With her new album, “Fully Charged,” due February 18, 2022, on Blue Heart Records, and the successful 2018 release of her critically acclaimed “Premonition of Love”, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Kathy Murray and her band the Kilowatts maintain their place in the blues pantheon that helps Austin, TX keep its reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World.
For decades this singer songwriter, Kathy Murray, has helped keep a spotlight on the Texas capital’s music scene. She cut her teeth during the golden era of Austin’s blues and R&B, sharing the stage with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and blues godfather W.C. Clark.
Murray is both a big-voiced blues singer and a prolific songwriter with a strong modern perspective. Throughout her professional evolution, the blues has been the foundation of Murray’s music and songwriting, though she’s never been a one-trick pony. “My sound encompasses the influences of all of Texas’ regional musical styles that I’ve been immersed in all my life: blues, country, swamp pop, zydeco, soul, and rockabilly,” she says. “I believe I’m helping take American blues and roots music into the future by writing new songs propelled by the styles that have inspired me.”
Recently, along with co-songwriters Christoffer ‘Kid” Andersen, Rick Estrin and Frank Bey, Murray wrote the title cut on Frank Bey’s album, “All My Dues Are Paid,” posthumously nominated for “Best Traditional Blues Album” in the 63rd Grammy Awards, and for “Song of the Year” in the 2021 Blues Music Awards. Murray received the 2003 “Songwriter of the Year” award from the Australian Blues Music Awards and two Silver Medals from the 2018 Global Music Awards.