[16/11/16] The Music of Johnny Murphy


I stumbled upon this singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, PA at some point at the end of 2015. I’m not sure what tag on Bandcamp I was scouring that day, probably ‘Philadelphia’ or ‘Pop’ and just happened to find his album / EP ‘unemployed’. Intrigued by the very similar file-naming to my several folders full of short songs and outtakes, I began to listen. The song ‘worrrrrrn out’ started to play and I was blown away by this extremely intricate production and weird voice he sang with. I quickly downloaded his free discography at the time and left whatever Starbucks I was in.

I don’t really know specifically why I continued listening to his music when none of my friends knew about him or seemed to know people who did. Maybe I liked how the only visible paying supporter on the Bandcamp page for unemployed is the same person on the artwork, showing just how small and undiscovered this great musician was / still is.

Over the next few months I listened to his music at home on my laptop every now and then while playing video games. One day I decided to load up exclusively only his music on my phone and go skateboarding to the river that was about 40 minutes away from my apartment and take some photographs. I kept pulling out my phone to take screenshots of songs i really liked, something I’ll do if I hear a really interesting snippet of audio / chord progression in a song that I will want to listen to again. I distinctly remember sitting down on a bench drinking some apple & sake drink, listening to the songs ‘peace my birdie’ and ‘de jah blues’. The album ‘the ghost of naivete past’ was previously titled ‘the ghost of hanukkah past’, something he has seemed to do with the rest of his discography, even the latest release.


His newest album ‘employed’ which was released earlier this year returns to his older sound from the previous releases, stripping away the production of his songs back to just acoustic guitar, toy keyboard sounds, and voice, recorded through what I assume is an iPhone, due to the original title of the album being something along the lines of ‘voice memos’. It is a great album but I really hope this doesn’t mean the end of his ‘full band-ish’ era!

Written by Henry Thompson

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