London-born and Scotland-bred, Alexi Murdoch
arrived in the United States six years ago a wide-eyed Duke University freshman philosophy major. Nowadays, he spends more time with his guitar than with his textbooks. Though there's nothing novel about Murdoch's musical niche it's almost too easy to imagine a clichéd singer-songwriter type slinging a guitar gently over his shoulder after strumming adoring coffee drinkers into a trance his stripped-down melodies solidly peg the young troubadour alongside the likes of James Taylor. Like Sweet Baby James, Murdoch is capable of soothing, foggy lullabies; philosophical numbers that wax on lost friends and the meaning of life; and even the occasional late-blooming anthem. One such tune from his debut album, Time Without Consequence
, is "12," which begins with the eerie, distorted voice of a woman mumbling into a phone receiver and ends with Murdoch's vocals soaring to Chris Martin levels. Surprises such as these reveal a folksinger's folksinger who still manages to come off fresh.