The Ancestral Swamp is the 20th full length album by legendary rambler, cartoonist, & “outsider” folk singer, guitarist Michael Hurley and his label debut for Gnomonsong. It was primarily compiled at Mississippi Studios in Portland, OR, and mixed by Jim Brunberg. It's Snock's bluer aspect, home recordings, with comic tale of Kornbred inside and brilliant cover picture of Boone as well as Uncle Gaspard, and iIt comes in just in the nick of time for the rabid Snockophile. A batch of new vittles and encores of some of his classic tunes, The Ancestral Swamp” bubbles with laid back ease and tremolodic goodness.
Most songs have the simplest of arrangements: Hurley singing solo, accompanied by his guitar, Wurlizter organ, or fiddle. Tara Jane O'Neil helps lend a nice touch to "El Dorado", and Snock calls upon frequent past accomplices Dave Reisch, and Louie Longmeyer for their graceful take on sleepy winners like"New River Blues" and "Gamblin' Charlie. Like all of Michael's albums, once one sets the needle down, they are put in a certain peace and place. His voice and songs are unique, shuffling with characters and visions clear and wild. By The Ancestral Swamp , it seems Snock has left his front door open a bit wider than usual. If you lean in close, you can breathe in a little of the vapor rising off the water, and enjoy a tale or two.
Hurley's debut album, First Songs, was recorded for Folkways Records in 1965 on the same reel-to-reel machine that taped Leadbelly's Last Sessions. He had been "discovered" in '64 by blues and jazz historian Frederick Ramsey III, and subsequently championed by his friend from teenage years Jesse Colin Young. Young released his second and third albums on the Youngbloods' Warner Brothers imprint Raccoon in the early 70’s. In 1975, Hurley -- who’d spent much of the prior decade living as a hobo, jumping and robbing trains and getting into trouble with the law -- moved in with Peter Stampfel of The Holy Modal Rounders, thus beginning 15 years of fruitful if fitfull collaborations. His 1976 LP Have Moicy, a collaboration with the Unholy Modal Rounders and Jeffrey Frederick & The Clamtones, was named "the greatest folk album of the rock era" by the Village Voice's Robert Christgau. Hurley went on to release three albums through the Rounder in the late ‘70’s and thereafter self-released consequent releases up until finding a comfy home with Gnomonsong.
Snock has personally test marketed The Ancestral Swamp and the results are in: “The Ancestral Swamp is actually a good party record , even though fraught with dirges of dying and death.”