Album Review

Psych-folk Impatience: Muirhead

Andy Ferro - Muirhead

The music industry moves quickly these days if only by virtue of the sheer amount of records being made. While the big companies have certainly drawn back operations, smaller labels have been more than happy to fill the space and at no other time in history has the casual audience been so spoiled for choice or so assaulted by availability. Be that as it may, the process of composing, recording, and releasing is the same as it ever was. Few musicians release more than an album a year, often propping up the two-to-three year average lag time between proper releases through EP’s and live album road records. Its doubtful many musicians take issue with this process, but Andy Ferro isn’t much like other musicians. With his first solo release, ‘Muirhead,’ out February 26th via Rough Beast, the Ranch Ghost guitarists has found a solution for a problem that had long been frustrating him: the slow pace of from conception to distribution.

Like many disenfranchised musicians before him, Ferro decided DIY was the best way to go about speeding up the creative drive. And so over the course of a week, using only an old tape recorder and the few instruments as his disposal, Andy Ferro designed and produced his first LP ‘Muirhead.’ Part experiment and part retro-innovation, the Anglo-American songwriter has created quite an intriguing project.

The best word to describe ‘Muirhead’ would have to be borrowed from the visual arts. The individual tracks, as well as the album as a whole, comes off as an impressionistic work. Its lines run over each other, its muted colors avoid contrast and rather intertwine like ivy. Despite the singer/song writer method, ‘Muirhead’ stands in contrast to what most would describe as folk record. In equal antagonism to the speed of production, there is something indelibly lazy about this collection of songs. There is space on these tracks, a great amount of it, which Ferro uses to his advantage by incorporating aural oddities to reinforce lyrical subject matter. The pace matches his accent quite well, his voice sounds like doggerel English void of the British colloquialisms Americans expect from our cross pond brethren. The various elements all add up to slow burn record, one that isn’t quite coffee house folk or anguished poet, but something above both for its simplistic indulgence.  

Altogether Muirhead sounds like the home recording of a shut away. Something that might have come out of an Elliot Smith or Jeff Mangum kitchen session had either artist not been so down on themselves. The lyrical content fuses narrative along with the first person point of view, with that odd, deflated touch of psychedelia and mystery the English seem to do so well.  It may not be the purist's cup of meat, but Muirhead is an exceptional first release.