Benjy Ferree - Leaving the Nest
Matt Harrold 28/01/2007
With all the cash flowing into Domino Records coffers after thanks mainly to their signing of the Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand, those big wigs at the top of the now super league label sent forth their minions to cross the great trans-alantic divide in search of new talent. One of the beneficiaries of this new drive has been Washington singer-songwriter Benjy Ferree. The signing that almost wasn't after Benjy thought Domino's original call was a prank played on him by some friends, causing
him to hang up before the Domino representative could make an offer. Fortunately for him and for us Domino called back. The result of the deal has been the release of the Leaving the Nest Lp, extending the original EP of the same title with a few more tracks.
In doing so Benjy Ferree brings to boil a melting pot of an album where Ray Davies pop melody is stirred in with Bob Dylan folk. Add a dash of Americana in the form of laid back whistle solos which duet with violins, off key harmonica and vocals that are reminiscent of Jack White on the White Stripes' more whimsical tracks. Leaving the Nest is soaked in charm from jaunty opener In The Countryside to the cover of Johnny Cash's Little At A Time staggering it's way down the country lane, whiskey bottle in hand as it mourns lost love. That vibe that one too many drinks are most definitely bad for you crops up again in Private Honeymoon with the initial aceppella “la-la-la” sounding like Benjy Ferree's about to
come out with one of those badly timed “I love you” moments. It also proves to be the weakest track with somewhat slurred vocals at the end and start detracting from an otherwise touching song. Else where on the album there's gothic swamp blues in the form of Dog Killers, about as dark as the
album gets. Look under the simplest of guitar rifts and you'll find lead heavy bass lurking under lending all the gravity and menace of the gang of trouble makers being sung about.
So some people are going to point and shout “Lack of originality” at the album, they'll also be the ones sitting miserably in their dark, dank rooms waiting for the new best innovation to come along and rescue their sorry arses. Instead Leaving the Nest is the barman who swaps tales with those who would listen and offers a shoulder to lean on for those in need.
There's a level of warmth contained within which goes to show that pushing the envelope though noble doesn't always have to be striven for as long as your heart is in the right place.