While there’s been a steady stream of Snock-related releases over the past few years – live records and reissues of lost classics like Blue Navigator, it’s been a while since Hurley hit the studio proper. His run on Mississippi Records captured him with a certain intimacy and immediacy, but with The Time of the Foxgloves, he offers up a late-career highlight that finds him recording in a clarity he’s been avoiding for the last few decades. With plenty of friends and fans on board in the process (Luke Ydstie, Kati Claborne, Josephine Foster, Gabrielle Macrae, Hialli Anderson, Gill Landry), Hurley’s vibrant and singular voice is just as potent at 80s as its ever been. With his combination of with and weather-beaten ease, the record swings from backporch pulpit swingers, tempered by a late autumn light, to sundown fireside confessionals.
There’s something to be said, not only for Hurley’s skill as a songwriter, but for his delivery as well. Snock could sing the takeout menus and it might still feel like a revelatory moment. He imbues his songs (old and new here) with a meadow breeze melancholy that’s less a lament than a contented sigh. He recasts a few classics “Lush Green Trees” (from Watertower); “Love Is the Closest Thing” (as “Time Is Right” on 1995’s Parsnip Snips) with the full band sound, and they bloom into favorite new versions. The feeling that there’s nothing else that Hurley would rather be doing than serenade a few sympathetic ears comes shining through on the record, and in the midst a run like his, it’s hard to argue with him. The songwriter is a contemporary master of song, just finally getting his due after decades spent weaving the wonders of the universe to tape. With a recent NY Times piece running down his legacy, its about time that he was elevated from tape-traded secret to national treasure.
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