Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The makings of a man are different for everyone, but for those who turn out to be close to the man that Alexi Murdoch is, there are some specific things needed to get it right. There needs to be a great humbleness, a humility that stretches further than maps can carry a finger, a car, or a plane. There needs to be, hardwired into these men, that they're not bigger than other men, that there's some form of equality that binds every one of us together in some way, rich or poor, ugly or handsome. These men need to be able to see in the dark. They need to be able to believe in things that aren't so palatable, that aren't so real. They need to have beliefs that are stronger than anything they can possibly imagine, stronger than they can deal with at times. They need to gasp at things. It needs to be shown that they can be affected in passionate ways. They are emotional engaged in their sorrows and most especially their non-sorrows. They need to be able to see the glow in the cheeks of a woman or in the grin of a child and be overcome by the easy beauty of it. They need to want this and not be embarrassed by it. They need to believe that this is what makes them a man, a real MAN, and not hiding those emotions or covering them up out of sight. Murdoch writes and sings like a man with generations and generations of people whispering to him as he stares into the roaring fires that he's made with his own hands and let burn until they're nothing more than ash and crumble. He's kind to his family. He respects the past and understands that it will have a lot to do with where the present and the future might lead him. He's sentimental and yet, never too much so. He's that ideal balance of quiet soul and worried mess. He writes about people in the way that they're either coming or going. They're either away or here and it's this situation that creates most of the conflicts that he likes to think about, or rather, that he likes to explore. He most certainly doesn't like the going, the leaving or the gone, but hell if it doesn't make the staying or the return all that much better. It really puts the topper on the sentiment - an extended sojourn or an indefinite break. The loss of a loved one via old age and death, or of unexpected causes, can also be that which steels a man and Murdoch digs into those emotions regularly as well. He sounds like a man who would spend 20 years building a boat in his backyard, little by little, or building his own house, cutting down all of the trees himself and learning as he went, but putting all of the love that he ever wanted in a house into it. He's the kind of man - and the kind of songwriter - that helps put the night back together when it looks like it's just going to disappear into its various pieces, floating off into the ether. He will keep you. He pockets his slippery thoughts of comfort and he brings them out again when we all need them the most.