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Lennon CD Cover
Image © Arista Records 2001

Image © Arista Records 2001

(05 October 2001) The debut album from 19-year old American singer songwriter Lennon Murphy, comprised of twelve primarily metal-edged rock tracks, is entitled 5:30 Saturday Morning (Arista (USA) 07822014669-2, 2001). Lennon clearly has it all—songwriting dexterity, gorgeous voice, looks, and body as well as a polished on-stage persona—as the videos at her website clearly illustrate. Rolling Stone wrote, "Lennon Murphy is every hard-rock-loving dude's wet dream—a voluptuous teenage vixen with a penchant for bawdy lyrics and dark metal riffs."

Ever since Lennon played her first gig—a three hour show at a dingy club in Hendersonville, Tennessee, when she was only fifteen—she's understood how to raise eyebrows. "I like to say very sexual things just for shock value," she explains. "When I was younger, it was fun to hear whispers around the room like, 'She's fifteen!'."

Until recently Lennon's primary audience—not to mention mentor, collaborator and inspiration—was her mother Kathleen Murphy, an aspiring songwriter. Floored by her daughter's talent, Kathleen assumed a management role, culling players from the Nashville scene, booking gigs and negotiationg with the various record companies, vying for the young artist. Meanwhile Lennon's life was, "School—basically all honours classes—and between homework and tests, I wrote songs and did shows."

Just after she turned 18, Lennon returned home from school to find her mother dead, apparently from an allergic reaction. She became responsible for her eight-year old sister, Mariella, and secured a record deal with Arista that helped her prevail over a fierce custody battle with an aunt who had suddenly yang to step into their lives.

An accomplished singer and piano player, having studied guitar and saxophone as well, Lennon sings and plays piano on her debut album. She is joined by Scotty Smith, Eli McFadden and Spider (guitars), Kenny Aronoff (drums), Jerry Flowers and Scott Borland (bass). Production credits are split across Jeffrey Pringle, Scotty Smith and others. Signed to Arista, the production quality on Lennon's debut album is simply tremendous. Enthusiasts of Lacuna Coil's Cristina Scabbia (review) are certain to Lennon's debut album.

Tracks on 5:30 Saturday Morning range from typically heavy metal, including occasional 'grunting' ("Property of Goatf***er") to anthemic rockers to gentler and more subtle ballads. Anthems like "Morning" and "I Hear" with their relentless rhythm and lead guitars to love-is-hell pieces such as bleak and trechorous "Brake of Your Car" and "These Days," a storm of menacing guitars, lush keyboards and monstrous background growls, it is obvious that Lennon is into the hard stuff. Yet she also uncannily merges the heavy with the heavenly on "Couldn't Breathe" and weilds whispers on the Fula-like (review) hammering "Trying To Make Me."

"My Beautiful" is especially reminscent of Lacuna Coil with Lennon's gorgeous voice in stark contrast to raunchy moderate tempo electric guitar lines while the ballad "Asking You" is one of the most gentle tunes on the album highlighting the artist's more tender side. Although harder than the Alanis Morissette song with a similar lyric, "Thank You," is a cross between ballad and anthem, sung over richly arranged guitar and percussion. The blend of traditional rock, heavy metal and ballad works extremely well in "Couldn't Breathe." Accompanied only by piano, the title track that brings the project to a conclusion is the gentlest and most sweetly sung of the album.

Clearly one of the best albums by an emerging artist we've heard this year, Lennon's 5:30 Saturday Morning is one that will delight Musical Discoveries' readers. Additional biographical information, photos, music samples and video segments are both available at the artist's website. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order Lennon's album at amazon.com here. Clearly an album worth a cross country or perhaps even a trans-Atlantic journey, this one is a must listen!

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