Michael Hurley has been kicking around since 1965, when he released for Folkways Recordings his First Songs LP. Those songs introduced his aesthetic, one that has remained consistent in the intervening forty years and 21 albums: simple, joyous numbers accompanied on guitar and, occasionally, mouth trumpet (he squeezes his lips and blows a melody). That it's taken so long for him to be fetishized by the hipsters is amazing; it should have happened a decade ago. But if you're a Cat Power fan, you've heard a few of Hurley's best; Chan Marshall has covered his “Swee dee dee” and “Werewolf,” and though Hurley's voice is less flattering by far than hers, his originals cut to the bone. He's kind of an odd duck, Hurley is, and you can hear it in his songs. "Slurf Song," from the great Have Moicy album he recorded with the Holy Modal Rounders, rejoices in the bounty and pleasures of food -- pototoes, "perch from Lake Champlain," spaghetti -- before taking a blind-siding scatological turn. "Open Up," from his 1972 album Armchair Boogie, is a grand celebration of sex: "Freefalling, though the abyss/That's where I wanna be," sings Hurley. Hear, hear!
Hurley's new album, The Ancestral Swamp came out in September on Devendra Banhardt and Andy Cabic's Gnomonsong label. The record isn't any sort of revolution, but rather a modest, heartfelt, simple object. He's playing tonight at The Bordello, and if you're in the mood for a nice evening with an interesting man and his guitar, this should be a nice one. For more information hit the Bordello's homepage.
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