2017 CD REVIEW
WHAT SHE KNOWS (MGM).
FERRIER WINS BATTLES OF LOVE AND WAR
“The blows they come hard and fast, you barely hold your own/ you've been here too many times before/ and as the blood and sweat smarts and stings your eyes/ you feel the rush through your veins once more/ you land one mighty punch, fire and rage of a lifetime/ the crown is yours, he hits the floor.” - The Boxer - Cara Robinson-Alison Ferrier.
Melbourne singer-songwriter Alison Ferrier maximises fighting and precipitation metaphors on her third album.
The singer's rhetorical Am I On The Right Track, anchored in broken heartache with an escapist dream refuge, and Do You Ever Stop Loving Someone are equally bleak.
But this is not all fear and vitriol.
WAITING FOR THE RAIN AND FERTILE CROPS
“It's so hard to keep on/ why has God sent us this test/ the land we own is tiny now/ the banks have sold the rest.” - Waiting For The Rain - Alison Ferrier.
It may ostensibly be a tale rooted in rural suffering but could also equate to a challenged seasonal love.
But it's a definite drought breaker with Waifs pedal steel guitarist Ben Franz lacing the tune featuring Lang on guitar and harmony vocals with Beth Barker.
The studio footage of Alison was filmed by her friend Nadine Budge of the Stetson Family.
RUPTURED ROMANCE DROWNED IN A RIVER
“It was dark and hard to see/ the water's edge so slippery/ I didn't weep, I didn't moan/ I watched you sink just like a stone/ just a drunk who lost his way but had a heavy price to pay/ a love that once consumed my soul/ has turned my heart as black as coal.” - River Flow - Alison Ferrier.
Waiting For The Rain segues into the aquatic release of emotions in River Flow where the long suffering female in a pained romance with a derelict drunk recidivist watches her tormentor meet his, ah, Waterloo.
Ferrier sings of the icy water being cold as sin and turning her heart as black as coal when the villain drowns as he goes under for the final time.
She keeps her battle and his fate secret, negating the need for an inquest of a coronial kind.
The singer becomes assertive on the plaintive pleas of Don't Patronise Me where Franz provides six string bass.
Ferrier's fiery finale - revamped traditional Appalachian folk tune The Cuckoo with her psychedelic electric guitar solo and Lang's slide - has also been released with a video.
The song, originally recorded by Clarence Ashley and popularised by artist diverse as Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and the late Townes Van Zandt, is a welcome bonus.
Ferrier changes the cuckoo's gender to female as she sings - “O, meeting is a pleasure and parting is a grief/ an un-constant lover is worse than a thief/ a thief will rob you and take all you have/ an un-constant lover will haunt you to the grave.”
Inclusion of The Cuckoo is smart marketing - it uplifts the disc that also benefitted from winning a day's recording during the 3RRR-FM radiothon.
“It was such a brilliant stroke of luck and excellent timing! I certainly put it to good use,” says Ferrier, who cut six songs live with the band at Head Gap Studio in Preston , recorded by Finn Keane.
Alison releases her album on February 16 and launches it on Sunday February 25 at The Workers Club in Fitzroy, with special guests Harry Jakamarra and Alysia Manceau.
What She Knows follows 2012 debut album Sugar Baby and 2015 disc Be Here Now after Ferrier graduated from The Wayward Fancies duo.