Jay Dunphy and the Religion If Winning Is Inevitable…What's The Point in Playing?

Hard-working, always-touring Vancouver Island musician Jay Dunphy’s second solo folk rock album continues in the same vein as last year’s Season of the Deadened, though with overall meatier arrangements and perhaps a touch more mainstream appeal. His current line-up, the Religion, includes Ryan Steele, former band-mate from the now-defunct Moonshine Revellers. The band reach occasional instrumental crests but generally keep things on the mellow side of roots rock. Dunphy’s lyrics are as raw as ever: so steeped in emotion that they seem to stick in his throat, emerging as a strangled Dylan-esque wail that is most effective in the impassioned lament "3 a.m. Blue.” Thematically, several of the songs cross the line from heartfelt and candid to just plain old bitter, with several lines packing as harsh a punch as a drag from a stale cigarette. No drag this album, mind you. Rather, a wholly listenable disc and a representative slice of West coast roots rock. (Independent)