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Staff Picks Category: Blues music

Snockgrass by Michael Hurley []



Fact: Michael Hurley (a.k.a. “Snock”) is a drastically, under-appreciated American folk singer.  With a voice reminiscent of Hank Williams and a songwriting style rooted in country & western, bluegrass and the blues, Hurley has been issuing stellar material since the early 1960’s.  Recent years have seen a new appreciation for the musician.  Artists such as Vetiver, Lucinda Williams, Cat Power and Matloaf have cited Hurley as an influence.

1980’s Snockgrass (album not pictured here due to singer’s risque cover painting) is classic Michael Hurley.  There’s plenty of swinging numbers, reflective waltzes, weirdo lyrics and country-fried boogies with the mood volleying from serious to sardonic to silly.  “The Midnight Rounder”, “O My Stars” and “Watchin’ the Show” are excellent starting places for someone just beginning their Snock obsession.

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New Morning by Bob Dylan []



The late 1960’s early/ 70’s happens to be a great period for Bob Dylan, thank you for asking. Nashville Skyline, the Basement Tapes, Self Portrait (though many have said I’m crazy for admitting I like this one), Pat Garret & Billy the Kid are the albums I return to the most within this artist’s prolific catalog. 1970’s New Morning may be the most enjoyable listen from this period.

The album kicks off with the pining romance gesture that is “If Not For You”. The song has an almost Velvet Underground pulse juxtaposed with bouncy organ and country guitar picking. George Harrison would record his version the following year on his album All Things Must Pass. The bluesy and rock n’ roll sounds predictably find their way onto this record. There’s also lighthearted moments in “Winterlude” where Bob croons “this dude thinks your fine” and in the silly jazz rap “If Dogs Run Free” featuring a barrelhouse piano send up at the top of the song.

Dylan’s voice and delivery began to shift around 1968. He lost a bit of the raspy quality that his earlier recordings possessed and started leaning a bit on the softer side in his vocals. This is not to say he’s taking a casual approach to his singing; Dylan is most noticeably passionate on the title track, “Day of the Locusts” and “the Man in Me” (featured in the soundtrack of the Big Lebowski).

New Morning is just another one of those perfect Bob Dylan records.

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