Catch The Brass Ring

Ferraby Lionheart

Nettwerk, 2007

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


Singer-songwriters are a dime a dozen; for every Elliott Smith, Rufus Wainwright and Jeff Buckley, there are a thousand more well-intentioned buskers paddling to stay afloat in a sea of oblivion. Despite the odds stacked against him, Los Angeles’ own Ferraby Lionheart still manages to emerge a diamond in the rough on his debut full-length, Catch the Brass Ring.  

The album begins with “Uno Ballo Della Luna,” a brief wisp of a track that seems to emerge from a crackling transistor radio, floating along on subdued acoustic guitar strums and warm, warbling vocals. The worn-in, vintage feeling continues on “Small Planet;” “I was born a world ago, on top of rocks and under snow,” Lionheart aptly croons, backed by swaying piano and punctuating dashes of strings and brass on this folk-pop gem, a barely three-minute stunner fellow troubadour Elliott Smith would have been only too happy to have laid claim to. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Brass Ring thrives on an atmosphere that is at once sleepy and energized, optimistic and fragile, brimming with shy hope and offest by a shoegazing melancholy. “Vermont Avenue,” for one, is understatedly beautiful featuring Lionheart’s lovelorn double-tracked vocals combined with graceful, sweeping strings and plucked guitar lines.

Meanwhile, both “The Car Maker” and “Before We’re Dead” are invigoratingly upbeat; the former jangles with sunny horns and wide-eyed innocence as a chorus of voices proclaims, “It's not that I don't see / It's that I don't want to see / It's not that I don't know / It's that I don't want to know,” while “Before We’re Dead” launches straight into a toe-tapping New Orleans jazz intro with rollicking guitars and pulsing of bass soon added to the fray.

Lyrically, the album is as lush as its instrumentation: “Youngest Frankenstein” spins the classic tale of dissecting and reassembling on its head with lines like “You showed me fires burn / Taught me tables turn; now I’m turning on the heat” and “You taught me how to run; now I’m running away from you,” and the golden, slow-dripping “Under The Texas Sky” most memorably features the unabashedly sugary metaphor “I miss you like a honey jar misses the bear.” Aww.

From start to finish, Catch the Brass Ring is wonderful and warm-hearted, overflowing with delicate harmonies and bittersweet sentiment -- it’s a grower of an album that endears as it unfolds, and Ferraby Lionheart is definitely one to watch.

Rating: A-

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© 2007 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nettwerk, and is used for informational purposes only.