Sophie Katz is a Toronto-based singer/songwriter, musician and creative mastermind behind Shirley Hurt, her latest music project. Katz’s self-titled Shirley Hurt debut is slated for a December 2, 2022 release through Telephone Explosion Records.
Recorded with a highly-accomplished backing band that features Fresh Pepper‘s and The War on Drugs‘ Joseph Shabason (sax, flute), Chris Shannon (bass), Harrison Forman (guitar), Jason Bhattacharya (percussion), Jacques Mindreau (violin) and Nick Durado (piano), the Nathan Vanderwielen-produced, nine song album reportedly sees Katz and company traversing into the furthest corners of experimental indie folk, pop and country to create a singular sound that integrates elements of each with self-assured elegance, ease and unpredictability. Sonically, the album’s material is centered around skeletal arrangements that tastefully slink around Katz’s delivery, which subtly recalls the likes of Joni Mitchell, Carole King and others.
“This album feels lonely and roadworn to me. The woman who wrote this was definitely in the winter of her life,” Katz says. “The landscape feels blue and burnt orange. There is a wistfulness and longing, whether I like it or not.” The album’s persistent tone of propulsive contemplation wasn’t by chance; Katz came up with many of the album’s lyrical and structural ideas while on the road.
The self-titled album’s first single “Problem Child” is built around a 70s AM rock/troubadour-like arrangement featuring Bhattacharya’s assertive and propulsive percussion, Dorado’s dreamy and twinkling keys, meditative strummed and looping guitar lines and fluttering bursts of Shabason’s flute. The sparse arrangement allows Katz’s husky delivery and observant, longing and conversational lyrics to take the spotlight. The end result is akin to Nabokov being paired with gorgeous, spectral arrangements.
Directed and edited by Eli Spiegel, the accompanying video for “Problem Child” is set in a warm and gorgeous, suburban home, and features two women — presumably a grandmother and her granddaughter spending an afternoon together. The older woman is teaching the younger woman a recipe for pie. Throughout the video, there’s a palpable sense of tradition and love –and in a very lovely place.