Mike Ferraro – S/T EP

Mike Ferraro
S/T EP

It’s a shame Mike Ferraro could only spare us three songs on this brief introduction to his talents. He’s got a couple of years gigging in and around NYC under his belt and a jones for sturdy pop songwriting delivered in an unfussy, spontaneous state – useful when you’re a performance guerilla, ready to jump at the next available gig with as minimal an entourage as possible. Various demos offered elsewhere reveal him to be a sharp writer comfortable with the constraints forced on him by a low budget home-recording arrangement, forging vigorous, buzzing power-pop of a slightly art-damaged sort. This small offering cleans up the sound and performances, honing the songs to rest easier on Ferraro’s appealingly nasal croon, yet it is a little frustrating in its brevity. A grander statement would have at least helped to clarify whether Ferraro is worth hoarding or just a cute diversion.

Both “Baby Brother” and “Something for Nothing” are stripped-down laments with shades of Elliot Smith and Ferraro’s admitted inspiration, Sebadoh’s Lou Barlow. Ferraro’s lyrics are a little more vague, but they’re suggestive enough and they don’t get in the way. Perfectly good songs, with Ferraro’s North Jersey whine strongly reminiscent of fellow Garden Staters, the Wrens. The remaining “Lovers Only Love” is a snappier tune with bare-bones production and a simple, effective hook. These songs may not be in a league with Ferraro’s other inspiration – Bob Dylan – but they’re certainly better than Jakob’s.

Not that anyone asked, but I’d suggest powering up that old Tascam eight-track Ferraro has so lovingly photographed on his website and having at it. The home demos available there are a bit more interesting and sound good with the scratchy basement production values. Just sayin’.

If these three songs were the best on a 12-song record, they wouldn’t be enough to save the disc: if they were the worst, you could say that Mike Ferraro is a capable writer even when he’s coasting. As it is, it’s hard to say much more based on these pleasant, but unessential songs other than: not bad…what else ya got?