Branan Murphy: The songsmith observes that life is hard but God is good

Thursday 23rd May 2024

Tony Cummings reports on singer, songwriter, pop artist, worship leader, soul singer, rapper . oh, and did we mention family man, BRANAN MURPHY

Branan Murphy
Branan Murphy

The latest Cross Rhythms radio hit is "Thankful" by Branan Murphy. Journo Timothy Yap quizzed the multi-talented songsmith Branan about his 'Life Is Hard, God Is Good' album. He got a typically honest explanation of the album's genesis. "I feel like this album really began taking shape back in 2019. In the spring of that year I hit a very low point in my life, in my marriage and in my career. I was depressed, I was making selfish, immature decisions and in a lot of ways it felt like I wasn't being true to who I am in Christ. I started on a journey of healing, repentance and recovery. Shortly after, the world was faced with a pandemic that changed our lives forever and my family and I faced some very real suffering in addition to that. It was so much to process from all that was happening in me internally along with all that was happening all around me externally. These songs in many ways wrote themselves. I've said a few times this album was the easiest to write, but the most difficult to live. I'm thankful to share my journey in hopes of connecting with people who are on theirs."

Despite being a gifted record producer himself Branan has utilised the talents of four other producers - David Spencer, Jordan Sapp, Kyle Williams and Coby James - Giving the album a diversity of styles and sounds. Why work with Spencer, Sapp, Williams and James? "I think the world of all four of those guys. All of them have believed in me from the beginning, and that's really important when it comes to communicating your art to the world. We have a lot of trust together and it felt like they were on the journey with me, not just musically, but in the real life stuff I was walking through. I'm really grateful for how they met me where I was and helped these songs become reality. I will always cherish and respect each of these men for that. As far as what they bring to the sound of the record, they're each pretty different in their strengths and ears for things, and I think the record reflects that. There are all kinds of different songs and styles on the album - something for everyone - and that sonic diversity is important to me. An album titled "Life is Hard, God is Good" is such a broad and important topic with so many inroads for the listener, and I think at the very least, thanks to my producers and I, we have put together a respectable sound to engage such important subject matter from a lot of different angles."

Branan has clocked up a phenomenal 16 Cross Rhythms radio hits since he first came to the attention of Cross Rhythms in 2017 with "All The Wrong Things", a single collaboration with Koryn Hawthorne, a finalist on America's The Voice TV talent search. But before that, Branan had his share of dues-paying. While in high school, Henry "Hank" Branan Murphy began writing songs and singing in his local church. At the tender age of 18 he began playing wherever anyone would book him and over the next few years released two independent albums, travelled all over the US, relocated from Louisville, Georgia to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina before in 2011 releasing a mix tape 'SMPLFY' which showed off his skills as a vocalist, rapper, songwriter and producer. Branan was signed to Sony's Provident Label Group who released a shoal of singles before in 2019 the 15-song album 'Who Am I'. Branan then moved to Los Angeles's Dream Records who clearly seem intent on taking Branan to international success. On some levels he is a "success". But in the Yep interview the songsmith was very candid about his music industry experiences. "One thing I struggle with a lot is the fear of failure. Music is a very tough calling. If you're consumed with the fear of failure in this industry, it can do some crazy things to your heart. I once wrote a lyric (actually not on this album...but maybe it should have been) that said 'I dreamed to make music, but what if it's making me? Something I don't ever want to be?' But even beyond music, I struggle with the fear of failure in life. I'm very hard on myself when I mess up or I feel like I don't add up, which is often. The Lord is working to help me actually believe his grace for me and not just preach about it to everybody else."

One of the numerous outstanding songs on 'Life Is Hard, God Is Good' is another Cross Rhythms radio hit "Palaces". Murphy spoke about the song. "'Palaces' is my favourite song on the record, at least in terms of creativity. I remember being in my house, looking out of one of our big, downstairs windows late one night in the middle of the lockdown period of the pandemic. I was wrestling with a lot, as I said, both internally from all I was already dealing with, plus what seemed like an impossible situation the world was in. And the chorus just came to me. I sang it over and over, no music, just those words and that melody. It was like God was saying, 'I know it seems like things are in shambles, but hold on. I'm building something beautiful. I always am.'

"It was probably another six months until I wrote the first verse - it just hit me in my garage one day. And the rap came probably another 8-10 months after that, so it was definitely a song that came in sections. Some songs are like that. The whole point of the song is understanding who you are, who you were made to be. Your ultimate purpose in life is to know God through Jesus Christ, and to enjoy him forever as he dwells in you by his Spirit. Kings live in palaces. Jesus is King, and he wants to live in you. So, you're not a mess, you're a palace in the making. What if you saw yourself like a house, and what if you saw life as a journey of God tearing down whatever walls - walls of pain, sin, shame, disappointment, brokenness, injustice, and even any fragile foundation you've built for yourself - that need to be torn down so that he can make you into a place fit for royalty? When life is hard, and the house of your life feels like it's crumbling, it's not over. Surrender to God. He just wants to renovate." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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