Over the last few years, other than hip hop, I’m not sure any genre of music has been bastardized or pillaged more than traditional country. Second rate, tear in your beer confessions dominate the music scene, citing names like George, Willie, and Hank as influences is as common as designer cowboys shirts, and lap steel is a requirement to record music.
But for Burning Hell/Baby Eagle supporting player Nick Ferrio, his self-titled debut LP is more than an artist catching the end of a long tail of a popular sound. Ferrio recorded his songs with traditional equipment and techniques, and while his quest for authentic sounds shows dedication, it’s his subject matter that is more refreshing. Ferrio ignores overused country images and emotions and wisely chooses to sing about what he sees in the world around him (“The Trial of Mary Harshbarger” documents the bizarro incident where a US woman shot her husband, claiming she thought he was a bear – side note, no jury in the world would convict if Corey Crewe was the victim).
There are moments that sound familiar – I get a bit of a Traveling Wilburys, “Handle Me With Care” vibe on “Free Man, Switzerland” and you can’t help but embrace the Cash like chug that drives “Otonabee” – but Ferrio’s natural and strong song writing deserves better than sounds-like comparisons. People often give the backhanded compliment of saying songs could have been unearthed from a time capsule, and while I get the intent, I feel Ferrio would be prouder to know that music lovers that embrace the same classic names he does, will find beauty and worth in his songs.