So here's Houston's musical darling, after the major-label record shot, caught live at some intimate venues. For old fans there are versions of eight songs from her two previous discs, along with five others. She's in the downsized mode, with acoustic guitars, mandolin and cello. (In keeping with Austin Musical Code 01A/2B: There shall be cello when engaging in serious songwriting.)
At first glimpse, this effort could be viewed as merely treading water, but something more bubbles underneath. Maybe it's because in stark surroundings like these, the gutsy way Murphy delivers a song reveals an emotional intensity that will serve her well in the long run. Like Lucinda Williams (with whom she was compared after her debut), Murphy is not afraid to let a crack or throaty gurgle creep into her voice and in fact uses imperfection to good effect. She also has a Lucinda-esque gift for finding lyrical resonance in small moments, and some of those (especially on the older songs) become more apparent in this spare setting. But as her sophomore effort, Rubies on the Lawn, showed, Miss Trish is more of a pop kid than Williams; thus, the delightfully Beatles- style touches to such numbers as "Paralyzed" and "St. Christopher."
So maybe the music critic cliché here is that this disc is "transitional." Hopefully Murphy will find her sweet spot somewhere between the folk-rock of CD one and the modern rock-pop of CD two. But even as a holding action, Captured stands nicely on its own.
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