Bill Gurley, a veteran acoustic musician who lives on the Northern Neck, has created his first solo album. It's full of craftsmanship and folky Virginia soul.
Over the years, Gurley has recorded as a duo with his wife, Pam, and on a number of other eclectic projects. He'd never released a disc under his own name until this fall, though. "Break of Day," mostly recorded at Master Sound studio in Virginia Beach, is available now through his website.
"It is a bit of a departure musically and it is the record I always wanted to make," Gurley wrote in an e-mail. "Nearly all the tunes are original and it is co-produced with Jimmy Masters. I am very excited to get the music heard."
I can see why. Taste, polish and a dash of wry humor combine to make it a sparkling effort. The singer and multi-instrumentalist stitches together folk, rock, jazz and other strains of American music seamlessly.
The title track is a glowing, bitter-sweet instrumental that matches the tenor sax of J.C. Kuhl with the accordion of P.J. George III. The unusual blend of tones is fun to hear. The toe-tapping "Wake Me When It's Over" gives Gurley a chance to offer some friendly social commentary. "Lifelong Love" is a sweet, romantic instrumental dedicated to Gurley's wife.
Bassist Jimmy Masters, Tray Eppes and Mary Ann Toboz all made contributions to the album. Gurley plays guitar, banjo, fiddle and mandolin and sings.
"I keep a small notebook in a bag that I carry everywhere," Gurley wrote in the liner notes to "Break of Day." "Among the lists of things to do and reminders to myself that I never read are songs that come to me at odd times and places ... Many of the tunes herein started with those small moments of inspiration."
To hear samples from the disc, go here.
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