Chris Murray Raw

Chris Murray, formerly of the now-defunct founding Toronto ska band King Apparatus, seems to be trying to see just how lo-fi his recordings can get. After having recorded his last two CDs on a four-track recorder, Murray ups it a notch by recording his newest album, Raw, with a handheld Walkman recorder. However, one thing that hasn't changed is his ability to write simple folky ska, reggae and rock steady songs and play them with solely his voice and an acoustic guitar as instruments. Some guests drop in and give Chris some help this time around, including Hepcat's Alex Desert and Deston Berry, who join in for a cover of Justin Hinds' "The Higher the Monkey Climbs," and the Specials' Neville Staples joins in on an original piece. There's no denying Murray's songwriting prowess and soulful voice, and there are some definite gems on the album, but Murray's constant efforts to make his recordings sound as gritty as possible seem to have caught up with him, as some songs are just hard to listen to due to the poor sound quality. (Asian Man)