Fergheart represents the musician's version of the American Dream. The Oregon countryside and his dad’s old Yamaha guitar have morphed into the twenty-four-seven bustle of Los Angeles and a well-loved 1956 Gibson L-50. It's this tension between the easygoing country and hectic urban landscape that is the driving force behind Fergheart's music. He takes ideas from the city and pits them against the typical middle-American mindset. And while he notes Nick Lowe, Ryan Adams, and John Prine as main influences, he's added his own brand of lyrical sensibility to a stripped-down folk sound to travel back in time in order to slow down.
His new single "My Retro Weekend" displays this perfectly. Amongst the laid-back banjo shuffle, he calls for a more simple life that eschews "the latest trends" and embraces "books, photograms, [and] forties events." This single is the foundational statement for his upcoming album, fully embracing a "way things were" attitude with nostalgic awareness and fond recollection. If the modern listener is frantically experiencing digiphrenia on cell phones and screens, Fergheart is the off-the-grid solution.
Musically, the tunes are painstakingly written with an almost feng shui balance throughout. And one shouldn't expect anything less from such a seasoned musician with over 1,000 gigs under his belt, ten television appearances, over fifty film/TV placements, and seven years in Cliff Wagner's band. At some points, a gentle blues groove drives the song, and it truly feels like a car ride throughout Fergheart's Oregon country. Fergheart has a classical ear for melody, as the refrain of "My Retro Weekend" proves. For a guy who started singing out of necessity for gigs, he possesses a controlled range that rolls smoothly and fits right at home with the music.
"My Retro Weekend" was helmed by the who's who of roots music, further adding to the single's quality. Producer David Sutton has toured with country/blues legend Lucinda Williams since 2007, and one can hear his expertise on the first listen. Butch Norton, another Williams bandmate, adds to the tight rhythm section, offering modest drum grooves that firmly glue the song in place. Other guests include Phil Parlapiano (former member of John Prine's band), Mindy Jones, Eric Heywood, and Matthew Szlachetka. "My Retro Weekend" could be called an all-star effort, but that would be an understatement.
The future is bright for Fergheart, with the single release and a Christopher Lockett-directed music video for his song "To Measure Up" on the horizon. But most importantly is the cornerstone of all of his efforts: "My Retro Weekend." Consider it his mission statement, his yawp, his battle cry. Fergheart knows that 2014 is chock full of business and noise, and he's not about to let it slide. "My Retro Weekend" is his answer, and it's poised to become a timeless solution in a time-obsessed world.
-Ian Chandler August 2014 [+]