By Marty Mulrooney
Alternative Magazine Online interviewed indie New York musician Zach Hurd in 2011, to coincide with the release of his first solo album Changing Landscapes. During the interview, it was revealed that he was working hard on a follow-up EP produced by Robert DiPietro, whose credits include Norah Jones, Jesse Harris and Josh Rouse. That EP has now arrived in 2012 – She Never Sleeps is a 6-track slice of pure Zach Hurd heaven.
Zach Hurd’s voice can be perfectly summed up in one word: disarming. His voice flows with effortless charm, displacing negativity with every hushed word. There’s always a hint of melancholy, but it’s counteracted by sheer optimism and hope. ‘Brooklyn Raining’ opens the EP softly, cut-back lyrics soon giving way to gentle cooing accompanied by faintly thudding percussion and soft guitar plucking. It’s a recognisable fingerprint that runs throughout tracks such as ‘The Artic’ and the titular ‘She Never Sleeps’.
The pace quickens on tracks such as ‘Blood Red’, although the delivery is still handled softly, softly. Such tracks are a wonderful blend of confident singing, never strained, with guitar chords thrumming in front of a backdrop of pattering drums. It’s perfect looking out the window, rainy weather music.
‘Whiskey & Coke’ is a mixture of the two styles and this is where Zach Hurd shines brightest, lamenting his problems and how he needs some caffeine in his coffee, whiskey for mixing in his coke, before giving the listener a rousing solo chorus that will have you happily humming and tapping along. It’s the dull ache and lonesome musicality of Ray Lamontagne with slightly more light at the end of the tunnel.
Even at only 6 tracks this EP could have been ultimately too sad at its very core, but that’s why Zach Hurd is a great musician – he makes the music sing. ‘Devil’s Teeth’ is perhaps the EP’s greatest song, bringing together all of the underlying loneliness, all of the zest for life, and compacting it into a hand clapping, foot stamping good time. Zach Hurd won’t ‘wow’ you with his lyrics – but he’ll surprise you with what he can do with them and how beautifully conflicted he can make you feel in just 20 short minutes. A singer songwriter that’s crying out to be discovered by the masses and truly deserves to be.
9 OUT OF 10