Michael Hurley (for those who don’t know of him) is a living link to the freakier side of American folk from the sixties and seventies. With fellow travellers The Holy Modal Rounders he took the essence of Harry Smith’s Anthology and ran with it. Thankfully he’s still around these days with his unique take on old Americana (for want of a better description). On his second release on Devandra Barnhart’s label he’s teamed up with American band Ida who provide a very sympathetic backing to his croons, yelps and mock trumpet. Comprised (as has been the case over the past few releases) of reworkings of some of his back catalogue coupled with a choice selection of new songs and covers Hurley weaves his magic with style.
With songs dark and light, singalong and introspective the album will delight fans and may prove more accessible to newcomers due to the smoother production and Ida’s contributions. While his older songs such as “Wildgeeses” and “Hog of The Forsaken” stand out his cover of “Rag Mop” is engaging and he even makes a decent fist of old chestnuts such as Molly Malone and the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond. Best song however is the opener, “It Must Be Gelatine” where Jean Cook’s violin shivers as Snock dismantles the old blues analogy of jelly and sex. As he slyly sings amid picked and plucked strings
“if it looks like jelly, if it shakes like jelly, then it must be gelatine.”
For a taste of the old world brought up to date you can’t do better than picking this up. Hurley is appearing in the UK early in the New Year.