There are so many "guy with a guitar" artists out there that it's damn near impossible to keep up with everyone. Oddly enough, there always seems to be a little bit more room for someone else, and while many people have gotten sick of the formula, I can still find space in my collection for someone who does it well. David Hurn is one of those artists, and while he isn't breaking any new ground, this debut full-length He Was A Woman has enough interesting things going on with it to recommend.
Even listening to just the first track, the artist I'm most recommended by when hearing this release is one Mark Eitzel (whom Hurn fittingly toured with over the course of this last summer). There's something in the warm baritone vocals and simple (but highly listenable melodies) that evokes the man who's been making great music for well over 10 years (first with American Music Club and then on numerous solo releases). Although it's not quite as honed, it has sort of the same overall feel. Slightly melancholy, yet at times completely uplifting. The second track is a perfect example of such, as "Don't Have To Live" mixes a breezy acoustic guitar melody with a subtle electric one and some piano and quiet percussion. It's one of those excellent little tracks that is happy without being bubbly, and just about perfect for singing along with.
After the slightly jazz-influenced "Nancy Put Yourself First For A Change," the release takes an odd detour with the shorter instrumental of "Unfortunate Comedy." In a nod to the title, the track is hodge-podge of found sound and woozy guitar that never really goes anywhere and pretty much sounds out-of-place. It's even more dramatic of a change considering that "You Don't Want To Know" follows it up in a downright bouncy way, a slab of light country-touched pop that's probably one of the best tracks on the album.
It's on the shorter tracks that Hurn tends to do his best work, actually, as "No Love" again comes through with clean, sharp guitar melodies and excellent vocals that blend together into a near-perfect slab of warm pop. "Why Is A Good Thing Always Leaving" closes the album out in a very AMC fashion, mixing quiet brass and piano with quiet percussion into a bittersweet lament. In the end, it's a pretty darn good, if slightly inconsistent album. While some of the longer tracks meander too much, it's pulled together very nicely in others, and overall it's a nice debut that shows some promise for future releases.