Today’s Bridge premiere signals an extraordinary creative shift for a noteworthy local artist.
Those familiar with Alyssa Murray’s work are already well aware of her musical mastery. She’s more than proven herself across the city’s jazz and classical scenes — from studying under Bobby Watson at the UMKC Conservatory of Music, to gigging nightly (pre-pandemic) as a solo pianist or leading her folk-tinged jazz trio, and as an accompanist with the Kansas City Ballet. As a frequent collaborator with Claire Adams, Murray’s keyboard and harmony arrangements have provided buoyancy and immediacy to Adams’ pop songs.
But Murray’s latest single, “thx,” sees her traversing new musical territory that straddles the line between her rich jazz background and a sophisticated, expressive brand of electronic art pop. It’s the lead track from “Half & Half,” the artist’s first solo effort since 2015’s “As Of Now.” The new EP is also a declaration of Murray’s creative autonomy — she wrote, recorded and self-produced the album at home.
Filmed and directed by Corey Martin, the music video for “thx” is just as striking as the song itself. A dream sequence that involves a bathtub of milk, a steak made out of Play-Doh (which we later found out was pancakes), a tiny vintage refrigerator and stark color blocking, Murray states that the video "captures the chaotic unease of sitting with the unknown." That unease is brilliantly captured on this track, as Murray’s strengths as a songwriter and composer come into full view through oscillating melodies, blissed-out synths, a roving bass and punctuated beats.
“thx” is available now on major streaming platforms. “Half & Half” drops on May 14, with a digital preorder available through Alyssa Murray’s Bandcamp page. If you’d like to catch her in person, Murray’s next live performance is Friday, June 25, 7 p.m. at the FMK Social Gallery.