Today’s exclusive interview is with up-and-coming folk/Americana singer/songwriter Putnam Murdock, whose album “Brand New Widow” has some stunningly good material.
Putnam, I enjoyed “Brand New Widow” especially for its patience and honest delivery. It sounds traditional but fresh. How did your songwriting develop to this point and how long did you work on crafting these particular tracks?
Thank you for the kind words about the new record. I feel the development of my songwriting will be a lifelong process. It seems to come and go; sometimes the songs must be worked on tediously and other times, the song shows up like old friend. Brand New Widow is no exception. Some of the songs took years of being shelved with intermittent bursts of work. I believe 3 songs were finished in the studio the day that they were recorded. This is exciting and scary because there is no time to test them on an audience. This kind of openness felt appropriate for this record because if its patience.
“When I Die”, in my opinion, is a standout track absolutely. It speaks worlds to the bonds we make with loved ones and the selflessness within us. Can you talk about the inspiration for the song and the philosophy behind it?
The inspiration behind this song comes from my involvement with losing fathers. This is an autobiographic tale. This song was ten verses long and seemed to be getting longer until I we decided to cut in almost an improvised form to keep its emotional content. I was reading Joseph Campbell at the time. His philosophy of true love struck me as a truth. I feel fortunate to have seen this love in my family. I never introduce this song as a song about death, but as a love song.
“Brand New Widow” was recorded live, and it seems this technique works brilliantly. Do you plan to utilize this again in the future?
Absolutely. I have never felt more like an artist. We recorded and mixed this record in a week. The ability to shed the post-production-overdub-syndrome is freeing; what’s done is done.
Another track that has a classic feel I think is “Wages of Hope”. Can you tell us about the lyrical inspirations here?
This co-write was a lyrical response to the political change that happened after the former presidential administration. Tom J. Carlisle and I penned this one in his Brooklyn apartment feeling quite optimistic after the 2009 inauguration of our current president. We felt a hopeful, gritty blues would be quite appropriate.
The music industry has changed so much over the past 15 years. Some opportunities have dried up while others have opened up wide for the taking. How has your experience been and how does the future look?
It is still a wonderfully daunting task to try to make it as a musician. I do feel that the publishing end of the music business has come to the forefront where artists are working to get their songs placed in television and film. The future looks. There is so much great music out there. It is easy to share and access it all. The best thing to remember is the music corporations cannot make their own product. They need us.
How is the music scene in Dartmouth?
What music scene?
Please share your most respected musical influences past and present – the ones who provide real, pure inspiration.
Deceased: Bach, Jeff Buckley, Jerry Garcia, Elliott Smith, Ray Charles
Still making music: Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, John Prine (my hero), The Wood Brothers, Feist, Dolly Parton, The Black Keys
Theses artists seem to have the ability to cripple and inspire me with their talents each day.
What’s next on the docket? Are you touring for “Brand New Widow” or planning new releases? Any music videos?
I am currently putting all attention into promoting Brand New Widow. This record needs to be heard. I am always thinking ahead to the next record, but for now the focus is on this record.