There are times in people’s life’s where the slate must be wiped clean; a chance to return to square one and start again. Ian Murray, formerly of Poor Moon, did exactly this half a decade ago. With Poor Moon defunct, Murray opted to go it alone and from his old band’s embers rose Butch Bastard, and with it, a debut album under the moniker ‘I Am Not A Man’. The main man himself has been in a reflective mood when ruminating on the end of Poor Moon and the birth of his new alter ego “Almost five years ago I scrapped my entire life, left my home of Seattle, and moved to Los Angeles. The band I had dedicated the previous five years of my life to had fallen apart and I was left with no direction, no purpose, and no people. I had become complacent playing other people’s songs, touring, and talking the talk. I had given up on pushing myself creatively. I took a job at a restaurant and tried to stay focused on reclaiming a part of myself that I had lost. It was during this time that a voice I had been suppressing began to re-emerge. I started writing songs and recording them in my house. I gave the project a name that sounded partially like an old blues/country singer and partially like an insult. This record is the sound of a guy getting his ass kicked while lashing out at the world, love, convention, guns, gentrification, pharmaceuticals, entitlement and more, before ultimately turning the scrutiny back to where it is most needed: himself. I AM NOT A MAN.”
While pondering on the “world, love” and so on – Murray’s first solo outing slithers into steamy climes, with some choice lyrics that pivot on a carnal sauciness, there’s a track called ‘Sloppy Seconds’. ‘Hot Blooded Heavy Handed Blues’ has Murray declaring “I never had any trouble getting intimate/my balls ain’t blue/the hot sex I’m having with the internet has boiled my stew” like a man who’s abandoned human intimacy for a mucky relationship with his laptop. On the album’s most gnarled cut ‘Cold Dead Head (Cold Wet Bed)’ drums come at you with a nasty stomp and a guttural dose of blues guitar, the singer/producer announces, “my dick’s too little for these stuck-up ladies”. ‘Sr Marienne’s pelvic groove is something scraped off the floor of a grimy blues dive bar, with a smutty fuzz Murray utters, perhaps the strangest words of reassurance to an unnamed suitor, “you don’t got to worry/I don’t think I’m ever going to have a taste for the semen”. Aside from the sexual vein running through the LP, ‘I Am Not A Man’ exposes Murray’s fleshy underbelly; ‘Magnolia’s lumbering blues sashays with a well-worn tone, that’s transmitted via the vocalist’s jazzy pipes. “When she unlocks Pandora’s box/she’ll find you beating your head against the wall” uncovers a man who’s been wrestling with his demons. ‘Gentrification Song’s acoustic strums and jaunty handclaps embellish the album’s country leanings, but they also buoy the feeling of resilience and a re-captured confidence “In the day where you eat what you kill” and “not a friend so you can’t betray me” act as a clenched fist being shook at the world. The album’s eponymous moment closes off proceedings in a delicate, fragile manner and this is where Murray opens up the most. “I am not a man/I don’t have a plan or any ounce of self-control” and “every grain of sand slips between my hands” spoken like a man who’s been through the wringer but come out the other side, bruised but defiant.
What’s interesting when running your eyes over the statement by Murray is that ‘I Am Not A Man’ doesn’t present itself like someone “lashing out at the world”, there isn’t much anger, but the feeling of self-analysis and vulnerability is ever present. Perhaps it’s the weathered, rich voice of our protagonist or the blues/country/jazz twang that’s woven into ‘I Am Not A Man’ but you can’t argue that this album is by someone laying themselves bear to the world, ready for a new lease of life.
Words and thoughts of Adam Williams