Jamie Dunphy and True North are a Rock & Roll trio consisting of three veterans of that city’s historic live music scene. Each has a resume of notable Boston bands; Jamie Dunphy-guitar and vocals (Mill City Trio, Jamie Dunphy Band), Seth Peterson-bass (The Gone Boys, Capital 6) and Tod Salmonson-drums (The Snap Daddies). The band combines expert musicianship with a folk singer’s style and a keen appreciation for the hook.
Their sound occupies the same space created by bands like the Jayhawks and Uncle Tupelo. It’s a vibe that lands somewhere between 80’s College Rock, 70’s Prog-Rock and bluesy 60’s Classic Rock. The band formed in 2018 around a collection of new songs Jamie Dunphy had written. Everything clicked and soon they were on stage and in the studio. In the last three years they have released two singles and a six song EP. On May 21, 2021 they added a full length LP to their catalog.
“Dark Night Bright Morning” is the brand new album from Jamie Dunphy and True North. The ten song collection showcases the broad range of skill and style this trio commands. Lyrically this is a concept album of sorts. Dunphy explores themes of nostalgia, regret and the human need for connection. We view these concepts through the lens of Jamie’s own life story as he dissects the experiences of his formative years.
The opening track “Time” sets the stage. The melancholy, acoustic Folk/Blues tune takes a philosophical and poetic look at our universally shared enemy. We travel with the singer through memory’s triumphs and traumas. We lament the innate isolation of being human on “The Great Divide,” and the regret of missed opportunities on songs like “Waves” and “Everyone But You.”
However, for every wistful memory there is an equal appreciation for the Now, and hope for the future. Throughout the record Jamie Dunphy returns to human interaction, love and friendship as the answers to his many questions of life, love and faith. These ideas are wrapped up beautifully in the uplifting Country bounce of “For a Future to Be Possible.”
Stylistically the group smoothly navigates the album’s many twists and turns through mood and genre. From the early REM-ish Alt/County of songs like “Years Before ” to the Arena Rock power ballads like “Waves,” they execute with both soul and precision. Jamie Dunphy’s guitar playing is exceptional and the rhythm section shines with airtight grooves and plenty of stylish flash from both bass and drums.
The new album “Dark Night Bright Morning” by Jamie Dunphy and True North is a personal journey of self-discovery as told by an excellent Rock & Roll band. Listen to the album in its entirety below. You can also hear the song “The Girl in the Boat” on the Deep Indie Dive playlist. We had the opportunity to chat with Jamie Dunphy about the record. See his answers to our 8 questions. And follow the links at the end of this article to connect with Jamie Dunphy and True North.
8 Questions with Jamie Dunphy
Where are you from?
I’m originally from New Jersey, but have lived in the Boston area for almost 30 years.
How long have you been making music?
I honestly don’t remember ever not playing guitar, although my parents tell me I started playing around age 10. So I’ve been at this for over 30 years.
Who are the musicians involved in your project?
Seth Peterson on bass, Tod Salmonson on drums and myself on guitar and vocals. Our friend Greg Passler joined us for some additional guitar on our cover of “Ships” by the band Big Country.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Clapton was it for me for a long time. And certainly, getting into guitar in the 1980’s, Eddie Van Halen was a big influence as well. In terms of writing, growing up I was really drawn to the anthemic style of bands like Big Country and The Alarm. More recently though, I’ve been really inspired by more introspective writing, Jason Isbell in particular. I think this new album has a pretty unique mix of anthemic tunes and more intimate, personal songs.
What is your greatest non-musical influence?
The writings of Thich Nhat Hanh have been a huge influence. About 20 years ago, his little book, The Miracle of Mindfulness, led me to a Zen meditation center in Boston and a daily meditation practice that continues to this day. It’s a small part of my day, but a really important part of my life.
What inspired you to create this project?
I have this sort of weird hobby, which is reading everything I can find on new discoveries in the field of physics. This album really started to take shape after I read Beyond Biocentrism by Robert Lanza. Essentially he demonstrates pretty convincingly that everything we think we know about how time and space work is wrong. It got me thinking about time travel, not in the science fiction sense, but in the sense of digging deeply into the past as a way of moving forward. The result was a pretty tightly woven song cycle about my formative years, and some of the most personal and brutally honest songs I’ve written.
What are your plans for the future (musically)?
In the immediate future, we have a bunch of gigs lined up to support this album. We’ll be returning to the studio later in the summer to record a single that we’ll be releasing on vinyl. And I’m just in the beginning stages of writing a rock opera.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
I would just like to give a nod to Brian Charles at Zippah Recording Studios in Boston, who co-produced, engineered and mastered this album. He always creates a positive environment, gets great sounds, and pushes bands to be better. And also to Zach Peterson, who did a fantastic job on the album design.