The debut full-length release of North Carolina-based singer/songwriter Andy Ferrell is part studio and part live recordings, with the opening six tunes recorded at Quad Studios in Nashville and the latter six performed before a live audience at the Jones House in Boone, N.C.
For the Nashville tracks, Ferrell utilized session players including Wanda Vick (fiddle), Robin Ruddy (banjo, Dobro, steel), John Magnie (accordion) and producer Lance Bendiksen (piano) to achieve an effective blend of country and folk. The uptempo "Nobody To Answer To" recalls Gram Parsons while the folksy "Poor Man's Son" is reminiscent of The Band.
The highlights of the Nashville sessions are "Another New Year's Eve" in which Ferrell does for New Year's what Robert Earl Keen did for Christmas with "Merry Christmas From the Family," and the lonely ballad "Photographs and Letters," which finds the singer lamenting "souvenirs of wasted years I can cling to in the night" featuring Lauren Stovall on harmony vocals.
In the live acoustic solo set, Ferrell focuses on his folk roots. The Woody Guthrie influence is particularly evident on "High Water, Low Bridge" and the tale of Billy the Kid's exploits "Run, Billy, Run," recalling Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd." In the "Price of Freedom," Ferrell tells of a chance encounter with a drifter that inspires him to abandon an unfulfilling existence ("I work in a tall building/Nine to five each day/I get off and go home/Repeat the next day") to become a contented vagabond himself ("But even in my darkest hour/I'll grit my teeth and grin/'Cause I'd rather die out free on the road/Than in a self constructed prison").
With his strong compositions and solid performances both solo and with a full ban, Ferrell impresses.