REVIEW: Steve Murphy – Forest Fires EP

Steve Murphy releases his debut EP, ‘Forest Fires’. 4 tracks of emotive, introspective music that serve as a wonderful accoutrement to these confusing, isolated times.

Opening up the EP is a cover (one of three) of The Menzingers, ‘Lookers’. Dripping in nostalgia and wistfulness, the opening section has an especially lo-fi aspect, almost serving as a reflection of our time spent locked-down, with a very DIY sound to it. Murphy himself states that, “They all have clear, powerful themes. Lookers is about memory and looking back. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, and The Menzingers are dripping in it.” With his modus-operandi of evoking nostalgia and crafting emotive and soulful music, Murphy excels in leaps and bounds.

Following track, ‘Landing Feet First’, a cover of, Bayside, offers a deeply evocative tone within its melody. With muted guitars permeating the verses of the song, it allows Murphy’s voice to truly shine with it’s beautiful fragility. Later in the track, strings are come into play, only serving to heighten the tracks beautiful delicacy. With this track, like with all the EP’s covers, Murphy succeeds in truly making the track his own. Not only within his melodic changes, but in a deeper way, more emotionally rooted. Attaching his own meanings and experiences to these lyrics. In his own words, “Landing Feet first is a straight up love song, about feeling like you’ve always known the love of your life, even though you might have only just met them. This song is for my girlfriend.”

‘Brother’s Song’ is the last cover on the EP and is by far the most gut punching. The guitar throughout the track is very mellow and downbeat, almost Simon and Garfunkel-esque in its melancholia. It oozes nostalgia but in perhaps the darkest way possible, with Murphy recounting the haunting tale of a boy’s fear at his brother heading to war. “Brother’s Song is incredibly sad. It’s about war and how it tears apart families back home”, says Murphy, “Brand New are one of my favourite bands and the melody in the chorus is wonderful in this song.” One must echo Murphy’s sentiments regarding the melody, but also champion his own skills as a song-smith. With him, yet again, adding his own deep emotion and sentimentality to the track.

Closing out the EP is an original composition of Murphy’s, ‘Phantism’. In stark contrast to the rest of the EP, the track is an electro-infused instrumental and further serves to highlight Murphy’s talents as a song-writer. With an ambient lead in, the guitar tone is somewhat haunting and creates a palpable sense of discomfort. With the introduction of a more electronic tone, it takes the track in a different but equally blissful direction. On the track Murphy said, “I wanted to write something electronic and apocalyptic sounding.” He continued, “Phantasm definitely sticks out on the EP, it’s stylistically very different. But the acoustic guitar is still there.” ‘Phantism’ serves to take all the pent up emotion that’s been building throughout the EP and release it in a cathartic crescendo.

‘Forest Fires’ is an excellent debut from Murphy. Packed full of nostalgia and emotion it comes at you full force with an unbridled passion and soul. At points bringing you close to tears, but always gripping you, ‘Forest Fires’ excellent listening and oddly poetic celebration of the times in which we find ourselves.

Stream, ‘Forest Fires’ HERE.