Love Can’t Tell Time
On first listen, Love Can’t Tell Time, the latest album by Murray McLauchlan, is reminiscent of the two recent albums of old jazz/pop standards by Bob Dylan. Like the Dylan albums, Murray is working with a small, tight ensemble – actually, smaller than Dylan’s with only three other musicians throughout – that offers tight, but relaxed versions of the standards in a rootsy, but nicely swinging vein.
But, there’s a big difference between Murray’s album and the two Dylan albums (plus the upcoming 3-CD set due in a couple of weeks) in that Murray not only sings standards, he’s writing and co-writing songs that fit seamlessly with the standards. In fact, Murray wrote or co-wrote seven of the 10 tracks on Love Can’t Tell Time and the original material reaches the lofty heights of time-tested standards like “Pick Yourself Up,” “Hey There” and “Come Fly With Me.”
The other big difference between Love Can’t Tell Time and the Dylan albums is the centrality of Murray’s guitar playing to the arrangements. Whereas Dylan is at the microphone fronting a band, Murray is playing as he sings so that the voice and guitar are intimately intertwined – as is the playing of upright bassist Victor Bateman, violinist Drew Jurecka and pedal steel player Burke Carroll. This quartet plays throughout with no other musicians. There’s no drummer, no horn players, no electric guitarist, etc. – and the additional musicians are not missed from this quiet, relaxed set.
Among my favorites from Murray’s songs are “The Second Half of Life,” a gentle celebration of the wisdom and acceptance – and the ability to be one’s self without having to prove anything – that comes with age; “The Luckiest Guy,” which has an infectious swing highlighted by a Grappelli-esque violin solo; and “Love Just Can’t Tell Time,” which astutely tells us that love is possible at any age.
I’ve been listening to Murray’s songs for about 45 years and it’s great to hear him making music for an audience that has matured with him over those years.