Michael Hurley & Ida – Ida Con Snock

January 01, 1970

(Gnomonsong)

 

www.gnomonsong.com

 

Lately,
the band Ida has become a one-chord wonder, meaning they can hang on one chord
and make you wonder how they’re able to give it symphonic proportions. Their methods
add life to the most languid of situations, and that’s just what they do in the
company of veteran troubadour/ outsider folk singer Michael Hurley on his
second album for Andy Cabic and Devendra Banhart’s label. (“Doc Snock” is his
alter ego and accounts for the lighthearted album title.) Like many singers of
his generation, he has a nasal Dylan-esque quality to his voice, but on the
modern side, his dry, no-nonsense style makes him sound like a not-so-distant
cousin of Vic Chesnutt.

 

After
sitting in on Ida’s Lovers Prayers last
year, Hurley takes the spotlight and the band serves as support on his
compositions, as well as a few covers. Few of them move faster than a mid-tempo
shuffle, but the droning harmonium, fiddle and haunting backing voices (another
Ida trademark) bolster cuts like “Wilde Geeses,” which also features a Hurley
yodel that evokes jazz vocalist Leon Thomas. Everyone gets into the act on
“Hoot Owls” and the band’s off-mike hoots add the perfect atmosphere. Throughout
the album, Hurley acts as the great narrator, keeping the legend of the
rambling troubadour alive and well, and adding subtle twists to simple
structures just to make sure he has your attention. With that in mind, it’s
surprising that a good time classic like “Ragg Mopp” comes off sounding
dog-tired and rote. (What happened to the “dood-lee-oo-dah-dee-ah-dah” in the
chorus?) But otherwise, this was clearly a fun, fruitful session.

 

Standout Tracks: “Hog
of the Forsaken,” “The Time is Right” MIKE SHANLEY

 

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