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Murray A. Lightburn | Hear Me Out

The Dears leader trades indie-rock grandeur for classic pop songcraft.

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“I’ve changed my ways,” Murray A. Lightburn insists midway through Hear Me Out. That’s fair enough. And he’s not just talking about that middle initial in his name. On his sophomore solo album, The Dears singer-guitarist trades in the indie-rock grandeur and glory of his day job for a different but not completely unrelated kind of artistic beauty: The lush intimacy of classic pop songcraft. In keeping with the throwback cover shot of a pensive Lightburn with an acoustic guitar, the disc’s musical cues come straight from the more civilized moods, moments and musicians of the ’60s — you can hear echoes of everyone from Lee Hazlewood and Harry Nilsson to fellow Montrealer Leonard Cohen in these subtle, stylish, sophisticated and often orchestrated arrangements. His personal lyrics cut far closer to the bone, however. Digging deep and pulling no emotional punches, Lightburn presents unflinchingly frank breakup ballads, love songs and odes to family, growth and maturity. Only Lightburn knows if this change is meant to be permanent or temporary. But either way, it’s worth hearing.