Album Review: Pauline Murray – Elemental

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Pauline Murray

Elemental - Polestar Records

Pauline Murray should not need an introduction, she was the driving force behind first wave punk band Penetration, after the demise of Penetration at he start of the eighties she went solo, most notably with Pauline Murray And The Invisible Girls when she teamed up with the infamous Mancunian producer Martin Hannett. It’s worth mentioning all of this as Murray’s third solo album, “Elemental“, features long time collaborator Robert Blamire as well as Penetration‘s Paul Harvey, Steve Wallace and Ken Goodinson, an additional member of The Invisible Girls, Steve Hopkins, and to cement the feeling that this line up is one that has seen Pauline Murray go full circle, it also features Roxy Music’s Paul Thompson, a band that had a significant influence upon elements of the then fledgeling UK punk scene.

Elemental” features ten tracks penned by Murray, anyone familiar with her work over the past five decades won’t be surprised that the subject matter is not lighthearted, the album covers such topics as the power of nature, emotional ties, reflections, depression, missing persons and ancestors, but this isn’t a dour lecture, rather there’s a hopeful and defiant tone to the album, something that for me has always resonated in her recordings. Other than the instantly recognisable breathless vocals this is not a case of an artist trading on their past glories, the opening track ‘Secrets‘ is far removed from Murray’s origins, the heavy synth laden track marks a natural progression from her earlier solo releases. “Elemental” is an album that has it’s own distinct character, from the acoustic led tracks ‘The Gambler‘ and ‘Dark Clouds‘, through the poppy ‘When We Were Young‘ and ‘Missing‘ and the almost psychedelic feel of ‘After All‘ and ‘Shadow In My Mind‘, but despite the constant shifts this is an album that seamlessly blends together, and it’s one that deserves to be heard in full rather than having it’s tracks randomly crop up in shuffle.

Pauline Murray has been a presence on the music scene since punk’s year zero, she has constantly evolved as the years have passed, from her punk roots, through her solo work, not just with The Invisible Girls but also with The Storm and The Saint, and beyond to her solo releases. With each release Murray writes a new chapter in her own unique history in music, for me “Elemental” is a more than fitting addition to her back catalogue, whether the old punks will warm to her current style remains to be seen, but they will still have the occasional reformations of Penetration and will be able to pogo happily to the strains of ‘Don’t Dictate‘, but right now this album is where Pauline Murray is, and it isn’t a bad place to be.

Elemental” will be released on the 25th September and can be pre-ordered here