Saturday, 25 May 2013

Massy Ferguson - Victory and Ruins

Album review by jay@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk


Seattle-based Massy Fergsuson step us into 'Victory and Ruins' with 'Hello', recalling a pretentious-free Dandy Warhols, a warm and inviting track whose simplicity turns the song into a catchy grower and sets out the template for the album. Welcoming lyrics happily take you by the hand, leading you into second track 'Renegade'. After the breezy feel of 'Hello', 'Renegade' is a stronger alt-country track; a stomper of a song. Bringing to mind The Jayhawks and Gold-era Ryan Adams, Massy Ferguson take you into a close dance with that renegade girl in a carousing carefree style. The vibe is richer and swinging again on '2am Beauty Queen'. Here Massy Ferguson really work to their strengths; worn, earthy vocals, bar-room honky piano, lyrics introducing us to "Evangeline" as our beauty queen, it's a joyous trip of a song. A mid-song chiming break just aches for a crowd clapping along and raising their beers. The song crescendos out with a holler and crash of drums.

Stepping back in pace, 'Hard Way' is more traditional country then what has come before. A gentle slide guitar and twin male/female vocals harmonising and trading verses. The female has an Emmylou Harris clarity to her and lifts the song from being slightly downtrodden, interjecting a freshness and colour. A lyrical and musical gentle waltz around each other. Keeping the country feel, 'Flex Arm Hang' has a hoe-down style party vibe to it; more country guitar and sharp harmonica, used with mature restraint. At times recalling Jay Fararr's side-project Gob Iron. Even the lyrics of "get the dirty work done" reflect the American everyman feel of the song. By now 'Victory and Ruins' has settled into a warm mid-paced feel, nothing too hurried, and next track 'Everything's Done' almost steps into the bland and plodding. It only redeems itself with an interjection of handclaps and vibrant Hammond in the latter half of the song, enlivening the somewhat static dynamics. 'Compromised Intentions' is sharper and brighter; a modern take on 'Walking in Memphis', immediately a stand-out on the album. A stark tale, where all work hard and "temper steel". A struggle of everyday life, but it reaches a redemptive end. 'Compromised Intentions' takes all of Massy Ferguson's strengths and punches out a hit of powerful Americana rock.

'Wait Love Maybe' steps back towards the more mid-paced, and is held up by a sky-high chorus and middle. You yearn for it to reach out to something special, but holds itself back. All loose and raw 'Labour In Vain', fares so much better. Here the loose groove fits the band so well, handing out a top-down song where the tale of struggle is lifted by rewarding, upbeat feel where the "whiskey and wine" flow freely. All wistful lyrics of "one deal away" and warm country slide, 'Bring Something Back' has its heart set in the depths of Midwest country rather than the more eclectic Seattle scene. It passes by somewhat forgettably. Then with vocals sung close, organ pumping, guitars crashing in at just the right point, 'Wrecking Ball' is a fitting finale for 'Victory and Ruins'. A widescreen, powerful track, evocative of a stormy highway drive. 'Wrecking Ball' builds with controlled fury unleashed in a ragged glory solo which bows out 'Victory and Ruins' in suitable style.





Free download: 'Hello'
(Right click, save as)

Free download: '2am Beauty Queen'
(Click to stream, right click, save as to download)

Massy Ferguson's website

Buy the album

Catch them live:

May 31 Sunset Tavern (7pm) Seattle, WA
June 21 Columbia Valley Brewery (9pm) Wenatchee, WA
June 22 Waterville Biker Rally (8pm) Waterville, WA
July 13 The Cove (7pm) Kingston, WA
July 14 Ballard Seafood Fest (1:30pm) Ballard, WA
July 20 Whidbey Winery (6pm) Langley, WA
July 31 Summer Stage (6:30pm) Duvall, WA





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