The Jackson singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer has turned the blues rock tide with his debut album, “Seafoam,” a beautiful, introspective sonic journey filled with hope, gratitude and self-reflection. Think Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, Steely Dan and The Beatles crashing together into a clean, organic sound wave of oceanic proportions.
“This is my debut, and it’s late in life, but I wanted the first one to be good. The Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’ was so clean and pristine, while Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan were very careful and meticulous in their work,” Hurley said. “That’s kind of what I’ve done here with ‘Seafoam.’ I intentionally keep things simple because I want my music to have a good groove.”
Behind Hurley’s simple musical approach is complex creative vision filled with eight years of writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering 10 insightful tracks for “Seafoam” in his home studio. On his debut, Hurley played most of the instruments himself, but partnered with musicians Derek Cornett, David Friend and Chris Yochens for exquisite guitar leads on “Be With You,” “Wiggle Room,” “Where You’re At” and “You’re You.”
“I could have played all the lead parts, but I wanted a little bit of a different flavor,” Hurley said. “I wanted the songs to have all the same consistency and quality similar to the way Jeff Lynne collaborates with other musicians.”
A Sonic Surf through ‘Seafoam’
While writing and recording tracks for his debut album, Hurley used his trademark seafoam green Jeff Beck Signature Stratocaster by Fender. The guitar is featured on the cover of “Seafoam” and has a C-shaped maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard and a contoured heel. Its signature sound is woven seamlessly throughout “Seafoam” and serves as the ideal musical companion for Hurley’s album rock foray.
To kick off the album, Hurley’s latest single, “Be With You,” opens “Seafoam” with a blues-drenched guitar solo by Cornett and features hopeful lyrics inspired by Hurley’s 35-year marriage to his wife Teresa.
It’s a refreshing classic rock twist on combining Slowhand-like musical craftsmanship with Lynne-esque lyrics – “Lift me up so high/Beyond the clear blue sky.” The single has received significant airplay on Lonely Oak Radio, This is Only Rock Radio, CatorWeb Radio and other online stations.
Hurley also recently released a new video for “Be With You,” which features footage from Sonoma, Calif., near the Russian River as well as Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve and Goat Rock Beach. He shot the footage himself while on vacation with Teresa last year.
“I wore the director’s hat myself since I needed to make the video relative to the lyrics the best I could,” he said. “It visually shows the appreciation of a relationship that you’ve always wanted and the realization of how precious it can be.”
Hurley shares a similar uplifting message on “True Love,” a five-minute Lynne-Clapton-fueled ballad with dreamy guitar chords and soft crashing cymbals, for his daughter Megan, who recently went through personal challenge.
After “True Love,” the album’s title track is gorgeous, moody slide guitar instrumental wrapped in laid-back grooves and thick percussion with a Fleetwood Mac “Behind the Mask” era flavor. It’s a perfect way for Hurley to showcase his signature slide guitar style and sound.
Creating a ‘Seafoam’ Splash
“Seafoam” also makes a memorable sonic splash with “Wiggle Room,” an ode to Hurley’s late brother John, who passed away in August 2015. The track features splendid blues guitar work by Cornett while Hurley sings, “Remove the highs and lows/Numbness all around” and “You’ve got the zombie feel/Man it sets you free.” Hurley credits John, who was seven years older, with inspiring his love of the guitar at age 12.
“John was in the service, and he came home on leave when I was a kid. He came home with an acoustic guitar and had to go back after a few weeks,” said Hurley, who grew up in Napoleon and has worked as a senior industrial designer in the automotive and packaging industries. “He didn’t have room for the guitar so he left it with me. By the time he got out, I was playing school dances and had learned enough chords and songs to get a band together.”
The album’s closing track, “You’re You,” serves as Hurley’s personal salute to The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” era sound. To bring a Beatles-inspired feel, Friend added a shimmering guitar harmony that complements Hurley’s strong slide guitar throughout the four-minute song. It also includes lyrics reminiscent of the Fab Four, “Let the sun wash it all away/Feel your youth.”
“I think it’s between the blues and George Harrison a little bit, and a lot of people on Soundcloud have commented that it sounds a lot like Harrison,” said Hurley, who played a Beatles anthology tribute band in the mid ‘70s. “What a compliment, I was floored when I heard that.”
Beyond the ‘Seafoam’ Shore
With “Seafoam” under his belt, Hurley eagerly awaits to write and record material for his follow-up project. He intends to keep a simple sound, but plans to experiment with different approaches to his music, melodies and lyrics.
Hurley also hopes to release his debut and future projects as physical releases. Currently, “Seafoam” is only available for streaming or as a download. “I’m only digital now, but I’m flirting with doing a vinyl album,” he said. “I told Teresa I’m going to release my debut on seafoam green vinyl down the road.”