REVIEW: Massy Ferguson Blends 90s Rock with Bakersfield Sounds on ‘Great Divides’

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When a band draws its name from a farm-equipment company, you expect to hear some twang in the sound. On Great Divides, the new album from Massy Ferguson, you hear some twang, but not as much as you hear rock and roll.

The rock sounds range from the 90s alt-rock guitar sounds at the beginning of “Can’t Remember” to the psychedelic guitar by Adam Monta in “Rerun,” a song that shows Ethan Anderson (bass, vocals) has a pretty good way with words. One particular line that catches the attention is, “Racketeering and some bribery had me living in some minor keys.” The band also weaves some 70s flair with Dave Goedde’s kick drum count-off in “Maybe the Gods.”

The album features plenty of twang too – especially with the pedal steel that lends some Bakersfield tones to the sound. “Saddest Man” is a great example. The pedal steel at the beginning of the tune would fit just as well in a Flying Burrito Brothers song.

“Don’t Give up on Your Friends” is not only a good message, but also a song with a fascinating structure. It starts as kid of a mid-tempo song that straddles the line between twang (steel guitar) and soul from Anderson on bass and Tony Mann on organ. A couple minutes in, it takes a hard turn toward the soul sound to the point that it sounds like a Trigger Hippy song. Around three minutes into the song, the only sounds you hear are vocals and organ before it returns to the soul-Americana sound of the first half of the song.

A lot of the lyrics in “Momma’s in the Backseat” are spoken rather than sung. It somehow makes the story of the song even more powerful. Anderson sings about driving around and encountering someone familiar. The familiar person reaches through the open window and punches one of the occupants of the car. The assailant then recommends that the people in the car spread the word that he is around. This song feels like a movie scene set to music.

This album feels a lot like an album from 20 years ago, and that’s not a bad thing. The guitar tones are clean, the rhythms will get you tapping your feet, and the vocals will have you singing along. Plus there is just enough twang to make it alt-country. Great Divides will be available everywhere on April 19. Order your copy here.

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