Sunday, 14 July 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Massy Ferguson - Great Divides : North & Left

Prior to this summer, Massy Ferguson had crossed my path at two Maverick festivals, one SummerTyne and reviewing their album VICTORY & RUINS back in 2014. Fast forward five years from that last event and the UK is once again on the horizon for this band leading the alt-country charge from Seattle and the wider Pacific North West. Ironically (or same may say obviously from precedence) the pattern is very similar this year with the band on my check list for the usual trip to Suffolk and a return to the north east's prestigious Americana event. You also won't be surprised to learn that a new album is out to provide some focus for the tour.

Although GREAT DIVIDES came out early last month and got a polite nod in the Weekly Blog, it was catching up with lead man Ethan Anderson at Maverick that prompted the feeling that these guys deserve a little more blog love. The missing part of my Massy Ferguson jigsaw is seeing the guys play a fully fledged gig where you can really get into the band's onstage DNA. Looking up and down the tour diary still leaves the itinerary shy of playing the West Midlands (Northamptonshire on a Sunday is a close call). However, there is one gig they are doing at SummerTyne where they team up with Rachel Harrington for a boat cruise show that really caught the eye.

After Maverick, where their radio session for Leader's American Pie and Ethan's Sunday gospel role were seen, it is left to a couple of sets in the north east to give me my main Massy Ferguson live fix this year. Between festivals has been an ideal prompt to tune back into the new album, which first came into my possession in April. In a crowded pool even the best albums have to fight hard for diminished listening time, but a return to GREAT DIVIDES has laid out firmly what a lucky community we are to get bands like this to share their music internationally and tour.

While the ten tracks are staple Massy Ferguson if you have hooked into any of their five previous albums, they roll out as prime Americana country rock showing an influence schooled in the twin confines of the rural heartbeat and the suburban ideal. All ten are credited as Massy originals with accompanying notes showering light on the songwriting partnership of Ethan Anderson and Adam Monda. Themes hark back to personal roots, diverse nostalgia and documenting recollective musings that thrive in the wide expanses of casual Americana. The power, craft, guile and sincerity that you have come to expect from a Massy Ferguson release are prevalent alongside a solitary duet feature to pump further diversity into the sound. Zoe Muth added a fine vocal part on the last album and Adro Boo does likewise this time.

From a personal perspective, returning to the album has reaffirmed the standout qualities of opener 'Can't Remember' and second half anchor 'Momma's in the Backseat'. The latter was also one of the tracks stripped down and recorded for the radio session at Maverick.

With GREAT DIVIDES out for you all to freely sample via the structure of the music consumer industry in 2019 aka streaming, all I can merely do is point you in the direction. The guys will then take the mantle to win you over.

Tracklisting 1. Can’t Remember (3:13) 2. Drop an Atom Bomb on Me (3:53) 3. Maybe the Gods (feat. Adra Boo) (3:16) 4. Rerun (3:34) 5. Saying You Were There (5:03) 6. Don’t Give up on Your Friends (4:17) 7. Momma’s in the Backseat (5:20) 8. Saddest Man (4:12) 9. Wolf Moon (4:14) 10. They Want That Sound (3:47)

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