Shirley Hurt Drops Brand New Video for “Empty Hands” Off Her Debut Album

Lives in the world of experimental indie folk

Toronto based singer-songwriter Shirley Hurt has just released her debut album, and to celebrate the release, she’s shared a video for the song “Empty Hands.” A song that lives in the world of experimental indie folk, whilst her voice effortlessly shapeshifts in tone and phrasing, animated by the characters that live in her head.

“‘Empty Hands’ is one of the first songs I wrote for the album. It’s about sobering up after a period of blind impulse and recognizing the consequences of our actions, and both coming to terms with those actions and attempting to justify them to ourselves so we can sleep at night.”

Temple, Bassey, MacLaine and now, Hurt; in a world of Shirleys, the name Sophia Ruby Katz has chosen for her music is perhaps prophetic as it captures her stunningly emotive vocal approach. And whilst Shirley Hurt might be the perfect nom de plume for the creative Toronto-based artist, it’s her self-titled debut album which positions her as protagonist of her own universe.

Traversing sonic landscapes, Shirley Hurt’s vocals ebb and flow like lyrical Ley lines tracking the contours of her own well-travelled map. By the age of 18, Hurt had travelled extensively, having lived in upwards of 20 different apartments and houses, as a result never really feeling “at home” anywhere. At this age was when Hurt found herself in New York, dipping her toes into various scenes and musical realms. The first and only place she ever felt at home, and a partial home-base for her, she travelled between Toronto and New York until the age of 26.When the project she was working on in New York reached a dead-end she returned West, moving in with musicians Harrison Forman (Hieronymus Harry, Zones) and Patrick Lefler (Roy, Possum). Being surrounded by their improvising at all hours, a new approach emerged. “Harrison is a virtuosic guitar player, and I hadn’t picked up a guitar in any serious way since I was 16,” she says, “by osmosis I started playing again for fun.” Without agenda, the process grew organically from there.

Whilst Shirley Hurt’s lyrical and structural ideas may have emerged on the road, the album was self-produced and recorded at Joseph Shabason (The War on Drugs)’s Aytche studio in Toronto’s West End. It was engineered by Nathan Vanderwielen and Chris Shannon (Bart), and Hurt enlisted collaborators Jason Bhattacharya, Nick Dourado, Patrick Lefler, and Harrison Forman to hone her vision. “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with the songs until we returned to Toronto,” she recalls. “Joseph and I had been talking about working together after sending across some demos and Jason happened to recommend his studio at the exact same time, so everything came together naturally at that point.”

Carving out a space of her own in an all-encompassing universe, Shirley Hurt is the introduction to a long artistic story, and if the journey so far is anything to go by, it will be stippled with evermore unpredictable chapters.

What do you think of “Empty Hands”? Checking out her new album?

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