Songs from This Album
Album Reviews: Leaving the Nest by Benjy FerreeBenjy Ferree's beard is deceptive. By the looks of him, he should be getting the call from Central Casting to play the part of a literate, prolific troubadour who essentially plays on his own but operates under a band name or pseudonym (Iron & Wine, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy). On disc, however, he's hard to pin down, sprinkling reference points from Paul McCartney and Jeff Buckley to Jack White and Of Montreal. It's a playful introduction to Ferree's music, with the only caveat being that Ferree doesn't find his own signature in the disc's 45-minute span. But that's more of a worry for the follow-up album, and does nothing to deplete the pleasure of songs like the rollicking "Hollywood Sign," with its barnstorming percussion and honky-tonk harmonica.
Perhaps the most impressive feat on Leaving the Nest is a successful Johnny Cash cover ("Little at a Time"). Wisely, it isn't an iconic song like "Walk the Line," and Ferree is up to the challenge. He keeps the mournful twang, but weds it to a multi-tracked vocal that is part Beatles and part lo-fi indie rock.
Another highlight is the bouncy opener, "In the Countryside," which occupies the masterfully eccentric pop space shared by the likes of Jim Noir and Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes. Given the nature of these songs, the soulful, stripped-down "Private Honeymoon" enjoys maximum impact at the album's midpoint.
Less successful is the more aggressive but rather rote "Dogkillers!" It's the one place where Ferree's vocals sound affected. Leaving the Nest also loses some momentum at the end, and has an especially clunky closer ("In the Woods"). That's possibly just a symptom of cobbling together a full-length from what was originally an EP, and taken as a whole, Leaving the Nest still sets the stage for a career well worth watching. - Adam McKibbin, The Red Alert
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