Michael Hurley is one of the most storied folk musicians that is still around today. Songs of eir have been covered by bands such as Cat Power (â€œSweedeedeeâ€ and Troubled Waterâ€) and the Violent Femmes (â€œWerewolfâ€). Â In the years since ey released eir first album â€œFirst Songâ€, ey has been prolific â€“ â€œAncestral Swampâ€ is the twentieth album that ey has released, and marks the first on Gnomonsong Records. Gnomonsong, for those that yet do not know, is the record label of Devendra Banhart and Andy Cabic, and provides a voice to the new folk movement in the United States.
While Hurley is a focal point of â€œAncestral Swampâ€, backing is provided by David Reisch (Holy Modal Rounders), Tara Jane Oâ€™Neil Â (Rodan, Retsin, The Sonora Pine), and Lewi Longmire. Â â€œKnockandoâ€ is the first track on â€œAncestral Swampâ€, and it shows that even after (over) 40 years creating music, that Hurley has not lost the smallest of steps. â€œKnockandoâ€ focuses heavily on the instrumental side of things and as such, operates first as a structural track (building up expectations for what individuals should expect for the rest of the album) and secondly, as something that fans of bother instrumentation and vocals can appreciate. â€œDying Crapshooterâ€™s Bluesâ€ has a more country and surf type of style to it, but the stretched-out arrangements provides a brooding atmosphere that colors Hurleyâ€™s vocals throughout the entirety of the track. Note here that Hurley provides vocals that are human â€“ individuals can hear the pitch raise and lower, break and crackle, instead of using production tools to clean everything up.
The decision to do this gives â€œAncestral Swampâ€ that much more in the way of soul, and means that tracks like â€œNew River Bluesâ€, â€œGambling Charlieâ€, and â€œWhen I Get Back Homeâ€ will be bouncing around listenersâ€™ heads for months to come. Of all of these tracks, â€œ1st Precinct Bluesâ€ seems to unite all the different elements present during â€œAncestral Swampâ€ into one; there are hints of folk, blues, and even a little bit of rock in the creation of the song â€“ the weary yet compelling vocals laid here by Hurley are the cherry on top of the sundae. Hurley is still touring and will likely create a few more albums before hanging up eir instruments, so pick up this album, see eir live, and keep an ear to the ground for any more news from the Hurley camp.
Top Tracks: El Dorado, Gambling Charlie