Every so often, it’s time for Sound by Its Cover to take a break from launching merciless missives against purveyors of bad album art and instead give props to those covers that aspire to the highest marks of the medium. Today, if you hadn’t guessed, is one of those times. We can thank London-based indie singer-songwriter Alexi Murdoch for that; the cover to his debut full-length, Time Without Consequence, is beautiful and powerful in its simplicity.
It’s not often an album cover consists of a lone person — let alone the musician who made the record — sitting on a chair and staring forward, straight into the soul of its beholder. Time Without Consequence demands a closer look. Murdoch’s hands rest palm-down on his thighs; his posture is erect. It’s a bold, unfliching pose that seems to say, “Go ahead, I dare you.”
But at the same time it’s gentle and qaint. The musician’s dress, unkempt hair, and unshaven face are old-timey and welcoming, in the way you might remember your stern yet loving grandfather. The black-and-white color scheme reinforces this. Studying the photo further, you notice that the focus is very fine. Only the plane of his chest and face is sharp; his hands, legs, and feet are blurred. And finally, the overexposed glow of Murdoch’s hands, plus the receding hardwood floor beneath his feet, lend an ethereal, ghostly feel to the scene.
Without a doubt, it’s a work of high art. If someone were to frame it and hang it on a wall in an art gallery, SbIC has twenty bucks on it drawing considerable attention and analysis from so-called “art appreciators.” If I weren’t already holding it in my hands, I’d pay good money for it, too. Shall the bidding begin at $15?