As a child of the millennial generation, multi-instrumentalist and singer Sequoyah Murray creates music that reflects the borderless nature of the time he’s grown up in. His music is full of twists and turns, from soulful R&B to flirtations with electronic modulation. Yet, Murray’s baritone voice serves as the grounding force. Out today via Thrill Jockey, Murray’s debut record, Penalties of Love, transcends expectations of genre and song craft for a generous look at the soul of a young artist.
“I think my music fits exactly where I fit in society: oozing in between all the cracks and layers, existing alone, but also affecting those that come into contact with it,” Murray says.
Affected by his experience in Atlanta’s various improvisational and D.I.Y. communities, Murray’s new record confidently ventures into new sonic landscapes. From the title track’s yearning synth-pop to the bold, jazz-inflected “Haven,” the album explores themes of heartbreak, solitude and personal freedom. He creates a new musical language in the process — the percussive flourishes, chiming electronics and his own vocal modulation amount to this deeply complex yet accessible venture into the inner workings of his mind.
Armed with this vocabulary, Murray charges forward with the left-field disco-funk of “True Fun,” a triumphant close to the record. Murray breaks out of the gloom and doom that plagues him on tracks like “Penalties of Love” and “Haven” and into a euphoric state that’s immediately infectious. As a final send-off, Murray leaves listeners with a few words of wisdom: “The road is hard and it will be long / Be your thing / Oh, be your thing.”