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  • Jonathan Widran

PHIL HURLEY, The Firebird Sessions

In the nearly 30 years since his band Gigolo Aunts hit the UK charts with “Where I Find My Heaven” from the Dumb & Dumber soundtrack, wildly well-traveled singer/songwriter and guitarist Phil Hurley has done tons of just about everything – from being in other popular indie bands (Stonehoney, The South Austin Moonlighters), touring as lead guitarist with everyone from Fountains of Wayne and Tracy Bonham to Lisa Loeb, and probably a million other things that fulfilled the promise he showed since turning pro in Upstate New York in his teens. Things actually started even before that, playing in rock bands with his brother Steve from the time he was eight.

As if to showcase the gentler acoustic and hard edged side of his Americana steeped artistry, his first two solo projects offer completely different vibes. He follows his sparse acoustic album Nowhere Left To Run with a 20 minute blaze of passion (aka a five song EP) provocatively titled The Firebird Sessions. As if the high octane, relentless energy of “Falling Heart” and defiant country-swirling barnburner “I Don’t Miss You” weren’t dramatic enough, there’s a backstory about the project that’s worth telling – and it’s the kind of issue that the younger Phil of Gigolo Aunts could never fathom dealing with.

Namely, that these tracks were almost lost when a hard drive crashed, leaving the project in a thousand digital pieces. So besides this muscular expression of rockin’ firepower – a bold aesthetic that also extends to the mid-tempo groove and heightened emotions as he asks the “Questions of the Ages” – we have the wonderful symbolic uplift of the Phoenix rising.

The final two songs, “Border Town Girl” and “Why Wyoming,” are more in the lighter country-pop mode, giving him a grand opportunity to showcase his ample skills as a storyteller.


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