Singer-songwriter Lauren Murphy dedicates "El Dorado," a collection of heartfelt Americana, to her late husband, Judge Murphy, her singing partner in the Marin band Lansdale Station.
The album title was inspired by the county where he died of liver cancer in 2013. The couple moved there with their daughter after decades on the Marin music scene.
Murphy wrote eight of the 10 songs on "El Dorado," including the ardent ballad "Love Again." In her quavering vibrato, she pours her pain and loss into the song, conveying both grief and hope, singing, "I will find peace within/I will learn to love again."
She mourns the passing of another beloved local musician, saxophonist Martin Fierro, on "True," an acoustic ballad featuring Mark Karan on 12-string guitar and Jonny Flores of the band Achilles Wheel on National steel guitar.
In true Americana fashion, she based the songs "For the Love of Ellen," an uptempo tune showcasing Will Kimbrough on dobro and mandolin, and "Sweet Louisa," another sprightly story song of death and lost love, on Gold Rush women buried in Coloma's Pioneer Cemetery. She continues that historical theme with the Tom Russell penned "Hallie Lonnigan," a brisk country tune with Dave Zirbel leading the way on pedal steel and banjo.
Recorded at Cotati's Prairie Sun Studios, the album is grounded by the rhythm section of drummer Vince Littleton and bassist Paul Olquin. Ryan Scott adds a brassy sound to the string band ensemble, playing trumpet on the toe tapping "The Ballad of Booker & Honey."
With "El Dorado," Murphy carries on a musical career she once shared with her husband. Listening to it, you can't help thinking he'd be proud of her.
This week: "El Dorado," Lauren Murphy, independent, laurenmurphymusic.com, CD Baby, $15 CD, $9.99 download
Hear her live: 7 p.m. March 1, Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley, with Jessica Fierro and Achilles Wheel, $17 to $19