Feature, News, Reviews

Shirley Hurt Shares New Single “Problem Child” & Announces Debut Album out December 2nd via Telephone Explosion

October 6, 2022
(credit Alica Owen)

Shirley Hurt

Shares “Problem Child”

Announces new album: Shirley Hurt – December 2
via Telephone Explosion Records

Shirley Hurt, the project of Toronto-based musician, Sophie Katz is announcing details of her self-titled album which marks her debut on Telephone Explosion Records. Out on December 2, news of the record arrives today alongside the first single, “Problem Child” – for many, this is probably the first glimpse into Katz’s all-encompassing Shirley Hurt universe.

Throughout the course of nine songs, Shirley Hurt traverses into the furthest corners of experimental indie folk, pop and country, alchemizing a singular sound that integrates elements of each with elegant unpredictability and ease. Skeletal arrangements tastefully slink around Hurt’s compelling voice, an instrument in its own right that brings to mind some of the great classically leftfield singers while retaining a distinctiveness that is increasingly rare in this era. Recorded with the likes of saxophonist, Joseph Shabason (Fresh Pepper, The War on Drugs), bassist Chris Shannon, producer Nathan Vanderwielen (Bart), guitarist Harrison Forman, percussionist Jason Bhattacharya, violinist Jacques Mindreau and pianist Nick Durado, Katz leaned on an accomplished band to help piece the project together.

The first single, “Problem Child” is a solid eye into the distinct, nascent world of Shirley Hurt. Meditative guitar is layered upon Bhattacharya’s assertive percussion, Shabason’s flute work and Durado’s twinkling keys, summoning comparisons to the quirky alt-pop of Aldous Harding and contemporary folk of Dana Gavanski. It’s Katz’s distinctive voice that really shines here, however, gliding in the quiet moments of the track to stand front and centre.

Shirley Hurt combines this raw beauty from the vocal harmonies with the lifting step in the instrumentation and together this stunning combination provides a whirlwind, immersive, and slightly magical exploration which comes to life in nearly 4 minutes. Addictive passages and gentle hooks pull the audience into the center of the far-reaching ensemble. Sweeter melodies and the powerful and expressive vocal range from Hurt allow this immense emotional range to cascade throughout the composition. The fragility which dazzles throughout the new release holds Hurt defining her own sound, capturing this clear vision and forging this path uniquely her own.

When asked about the influences that shaped her singing and songwriting style, Hurt (née Sophia Ruby Katz), is reluctant to get into particulars. “I really don’t like specifically naming people as influences,” she explains. “Mostly because it seems like what happens is people use influences as placeholders for forming their own opinion about the work. A friend of mine refers to this as “mistaking the menu for the meal”, and I think he’s right.” The music on Shirley Hurt seems to fall in line with her explanation, never leaning overtly into any one particular sonic landscape enough to pigeonhole herself. Instead, the album and artist herself seem wrapped in a captivating, just-barely-penetrable opaqueness, identifiable only by the confidence of its
execution.

Hurt is more contemplative when asked to describe the album in broader terms, envisioning the songs asa musical vista of sorts. “This album feels lonely and roadworn to me. The woman who wrote this was definitely in the winter of her life,” she reflects. “The landscape feels blue and burnt orange. There is a wistfulness and longing, whether I like it or not.” This persistent tone of propulsive contemplation did not come by chance, as Hurt came up with many of the lyrical and structural ideas while on the road.

Shirley Hurt
Shirley Hurt

December 2, 2022
Out via Telephone Explosion Records

1. The Bells
2. Problem Child
3. Let Me Down Easy
4. All Looks The Same To Me
5. Empty Hands
6. Pendulum
7. Smile
8. Charioteer
9. Pulse

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https://telephoneexplosion.bandcamp.com/

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