Alison Ferrier recently released her second album featuring members of The Stillsons and a fine record it is too. It may often sound sweet and soulful on the surface but there is plenty of lyrical depth and some wonderful playing to dig deep into. In our review we said “Be Here Now is a polished album with suitably rough edges that provides plenty to discover on repeat listens”. Ferrier is celebrating the release of both her album and Jed Rowe’s latest release at Bella Union this Saturday night (Aug 1st) in Melbourne. Ferrier kindly took the time to answer our Six Strings Q&A and tell us about shaky knees, her duo project and towering over Rod Stewart.
What was the album that first led you down the dusty path of Americana music?
Beggars Banquet by The Rolling Stones was certainly the earliest Americana album I was into in my teens, then later Chicken Skin Music by Ry Cooder. I saw a fantastic band called Last Train Home in the Washington DC area around 2000. Their debut album True North made me sit up and take notice.
Describe your latest release in 100 words.
I’d be a journalist if I could do that! It’s a mixture of alt-country, roots, pop, and rock and roll with a full band of drums, bass, electric and acoustic guitars as well as pedal steel and strings on a few. The basic band tracks were laid down to tape in two days with harmonies and overdubs added later. Jeff Lang was absolutely fantastic as producer and engineer. He’s my rock! I find recording fun but it can also be a very confronting and intense experience. Jeff helps me through the tough times and his support is incredible.
What’s been the most memorable gig you’ve played and why?
The last gig I played was at The Junkyard in Maitland with the band. This sticks in my mind as it’s very recent and I have a pretty bad memory! At the end of the last song of the gig, I played a guitar solo and got right into it, so much so that my knees were shaking by the end. Pretty intense!
How did you learn to play your instrument?
I’ve tinkered with guitar from about the age of ten or so but I properly started out on violin around 15 years ago, teaching myself from a book then later having a couple of lessons from Craig Woodward. I went to many old-timey sessions in various pubs – beer and country music goes very well together! I went back to guitar as an accompaniment for songs and then learnt some country blues finger picking from instructional videos. I have no formal training and pretty much play by ear.
What do you consider the finest song you’ve written and why?
I wouldn’t have a clue, I can only go by what other people think! My most popular song on the last record would be ‘Best Behaviour’. On this one maybe ‘Rise Above’. As far as my opinion? I always seem to favour the latest thing I’ve written but that’s probably because it’s fresh. I hope my finest song is yet to be written!
If you could sit-in with one other musician (living or dead) who would it be?
I would say Rod Stewart with the Faces, I love that band!! I could tower over him and play some fiddle or some electric guitar and belt out some harmonies. Awesome!! I have dreams like that!
Do you feel there is a strong folk/country music community in Australia and what does it need to grow?
Having just returned home from a two week tour up the east coast, I can say there are a few great gigs for country/folk music. We could certainly do with more but we’re pretty lucky, there are some fantastic regional volunteer-run community shows that work brilliantly (like Uralla and Wauchope in NSW). The musical community in Melbourne I’m in touch with is very supportive and we all share our knowledge and help each other out when we can. I’ve met some terrific people and made some good friends.
What’s your favourite Americana release so far this year?
I’ll have to cheat a bit with this one and say Suzannah Espie’s new album. It’s not released yet but it will be soon! I’ve heard it all and it’s absolutely fantastic! I must say, it raises some pretty strong emotions for me.
What are your musical plans over the next 12 months?
I’ve already started writing for the next record, so that’s a work in progress. I’ve been recording and producing a record for a friend of mine (Beth Barker) which hopefully will be released later this year. I’d love to do some more gigs with Chris Wilson (we’ve played a handful of duo gigs under the name The Black Sheep). I’m really keen to book some regional Victorian gigs for me and the band. I’m also looking forward to going to South Australia for a couple of gigs with Jed Rowe in August. Playing music keeps me sane so I don’t like to go too long without a gig!!