Relax and smell the flowers with “The Time of the Foxgloves” Michael Hurley releases his first album in 12 years

Relax and smell the flowers with “The Time of the Foxgloves”

Ayma Malik

Raised in Pennsylvania, Michael Hurley has been writing songs, comics, and magazines since the 1960s. He has been called the grandfather of the “freak folk” genre and was an essential influence to the Greenwich Village folk scene throughout the 70s. In December, he released his 32nd record, “The Time of the Foxgloves.”

The album starts off with “Are You Here For The Festival” which is my personal favorite song. Hurley wrote the song as he contemplated canceling Ohio’s Nelsonville Festival, an event where he has performed for over ten years. The track is personal, and the soft fiddles accompanied with his gruff vocals create a sense of grace. Additionally, the song is joyous, and youthful, like a live performance. 

Each song tells a different story, and Michael’s soft, rough voice connects them. The most distinct scenario takes place in the song “Love Is the Closest Thing,” in which Hurley tells the story of two lovers meeting late at night. He sings, “When I got home she was awake / She looked at me eyes of fire.” Another song that deals with relationships is “Beer, Ale and Wine.” In this track, he describes having drinks with a close friend. The song is sorrowful and almost bitter, full of regret. Similarly, “Lush Green Trees,” is a long, unhurried song that shifts between jazz and folk. Despite being slow and soft, most of the songs have lyrics that engage the listeners by telling personal stories that sound like Hurley himself has experienced them.

One unique aspect of the album is that before each song starts, the hiss of a four track tape presents itself, the same one Hurley has been using for years. Most of the songs feature his guitar, banjos, fiddles and an organ. All of the instruments together combined with the sound of the tape make each song feel much older and creates a nostalgic vibe. “Blondes and Redheads” especially has a homely and soft feeling, with a nylon stringed guitar being the only instrument. 

Despite numerous features and collaborations on the album, it still feels personal. Each duet sounds like a conversation between two people. Regardless of being eighty years old, Michael’s ability to use different types of instruments and music styles and change them to fit his own vision shows his talent. The whole album is gentle, tender, and intimate. Michael Hurley’s scratchy, rough voice paired with his ability to play instruments softly make for a beautiful pair.