Mike Murray’s fourth album celebrates highs and lows

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Kalispell singer-songwriter Mike Murray. (Courtesy of Abby Doll)

Kalispell singer-songwriter Mike Murray will celebrate the release of his fourth solo album, “Difficult Days” a 14-song collection of soulful alternative rock, at two shows this Friday and Saturday in Columbia Falls.

Murray said the album examines the duality of the human experience: the highs and lows, the beauty and tragedy, that mark our lives.

“I was actually toying with the idea of calling the album human because I feel like it’s a very human experiential album,” Murray said, in reference to the track of the same name. “There are some songs that are about betrayal and what comes from that … there are some about the elation of falling in love …. the highs, the lows and the commonality of the human experience.”

The juxtaposition of good and bad isn’t limited to the lyrics themselves — the writing process for “Difficult Days” was a tumultuous journey in itself.

It all started in Los Angeles, where Murray took advantage of an opportunity to visit and work with professional songwriters.

“They said look, when it comes to songwriting, quantity is quality. They really encouraged me to write more than you’ve ever written before. I was going to write 100 songs last year,” Murray said.

Back in Montana, when he wasn’t writing, Murray was busy playing gigs. In the midst of it all, his voice started to suffer. An ear, nose and throat specialist discovered a polyp on one of his vocal chords which eventually caused the musician to take a break from performing. The days to follow were indeed difficult, and the experience inspired the title of his latest album. Murray said he was “struggling emotionally and wasn’t sure if my voice would recover and what my future held.”

While he voice rested, he began work on his fourth album, recording the instrument portions himself: drums, guitar, piano and bass.

“I worked on it nonstop for six months and in that course of time, thankfully my voice healed,” he said.

Toward the end of 2017, doctors gave him the green light to start singing again and Murray was able to put words to melody.

The resulting tracks range from the hauntingly beautiful “Human” where Murray examines the duality of life to the energetic “Lightning Bolt” where he sings about lasting love.

“It’s this whole play on, I’m totally a mess because I’m human, but I’m also beautiful because I’m human,” Murray said of the former song. “I’ve got to come to terms with those two realities. That’s life, it’s beautiful, it’s painful. As a person, I’m great and sometimes I’m terrible.”

Murray’s show on Friday, March 2 is sold out, but the artist will take the stage again Saturday March 3 at the LaSalle Grange Theatre in Columbia Falls to play tracks off “Difficult Days.” Tickets are $10 in advance and $18 at the door. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. show. Tickets can be purchased online at www.lasallegrangetheatre.com/events or by calling 892-9033.

Murray is a graduate of Flathead High School who discovered his love for music after taking drum lessons in the sixth grade. He started writing his own music in his late teens and released his first album, “International” in 2011. Murray has performed all over the country, including festivals such as SXSW in Austin, Texas; Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs and the famed Crown Guitar Festival held annually in Bigfork. For more information on upcoming tour dates and Murray’s music, visit www.mikemurraytunes.com or search for the artist on Facebook.

Reporter Mackenzie Reiss may be reached at 758-4433 or mreiss@dailyinterlake.com.

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