Ferraby Lionheart - Catch The Brass Ring

Helen Newbery 13/03/2008

Rating: 3/5

Based in Los Angeles, Ferraby Lionheart has the timeless, ageless feel of the Mediaeval troubadour. The effect is heightened by his photo on the album sleeve, with Lionheart (surely not his real name?) pictured in battered hat at what looks like a fairground tent.

Opener “Un Ballo Della Luna” has the feel of a prologue, with second song “Small Planet” seeming to be the start of the album proper. Its beautiful arrangements and timeless quality set the scene for the rest of the album, and the lyrics seem particularly apt: “I was born a world ago”. Lionheart has a magpie-like ability to pick up influences: at times he sounds quite folksy, but there are hints of smokey blues and 1920s lounge music.

'Call Me The Sea' is simply beautiful, its gorgeous melody accompanied by sparse piano and lush strings. Highlight of the album, however, is the dazzling 'A Bell And Tumble', which should ideally be listened to in a velvet smoking jacket. Its lyrics typify Lionheart's whimsical approach: “My heart was stolen by a whale/We danced a waltz inside his tail”. Different songs showcase the different styles Lionheart has appropriated: there's a touch of jazz in 'Before We're Dead', whereas closer 'Put Me In Your Play' has a more stripped-down, country blues feel.

Overall, Catch The Brass Ring putters along very pleasantly, rather than feeling particularly essential. There's maybe just a bit too much whimsy, and songs such as 'Vermont Avenue' are dreamily twee, without really going anywhere. However, the album's moments of utter beauty and overall accomplishment imply that here is a talent to watch.