Andy Ferro – Muirhead

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Andy Ferro – Muirhead

Listening to the seven songs on Andy Ferro’s first solo release, it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard an album that was entirely the work of a singer-songwriter for quite a while. Certainly, I haven’t heard one that’s quite as consistently listenable and appreciable as Muirhead is for the sometime Ranch Ghost guitarist, now striding out on his own accompanied only by his tape recorder and producer Mitch Jones (and maybe one or two of his Ranch Ghost bandmates) who add a backdrop of keyboard and other sounds to the songs. Whatever the story behind the writing and recording of Muirhead the result of the combination of Andy Ferro taking his tape reels and recording at least some of the songs outdoors and then buffing them up in the studio with an array of other sparingly used instruments, is an album that could gain a lot of listeners. Living in Nashville seems to have rubbed off quite well on London-born and Tennessee-raised Ferro.

That isn’t quite the complete story though, because what really makes Muirhead succeed isn’t the psyche-rock influenced backline or the additional and occasional percussion and sound effects that appear within the songs at random moments, some of which would appear superfluous were it not for Andy Ferro’s abilities as a guitarist and interpreter of his songs. Possessed of the kind of sense of timing and conversational vocal tone that any singer-songwriter needs to put their songs across with clarity, Andy Ferro plays and sings with measured ease and gives his lyrics the room they need to provide the words with a subtle depth that fuels his tales of everyday confusions (“Sugar And Milk”), aging (“Pendulum Song”), metaphorically giving birth to an assortment of poetically conceived infants (“Crystal Tongue”), more common daily confusions (“Plane Clothes”) and perhaps his experience as a dual US/UK citizen (“Useless Powder”). Although each and every one of his songs are put together with a lyrical flourish that when combined with his understated singing voice makes their actual meaning somewhat irrelevant.

You can just sit back and let Andy Ferro provide a soporific, sometimes edgy but unfailingly worthwhile background accompaniment for that thirty or so minutes of an afternoon or evening that you aren’t quite sure what you can do with. Although if you haven’t already got one you’ll need to buy a tape player first as so far as I can discover, the complete Muirhead album is only available as a cassette release. I’d be a little surprised, however, if it doesn’t find its way onto vinyl sometime in the next few months.

Rough Beast Records