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Album Review

Ferron can take a long time between albums, and it was only three years after the release of her last one, Turning into Beautiful (which was her first collection of newly written compositions in nine years). So, it should be no surprise that 2008's Boulder does not feature new music. Rather, it's something of a Ferron tribute album put together by producer/violinist Bitch, but featuring Ferron herself. "This project has been a true honor: to record one of my idols and make it into a gift for all of you," Bitch writes in a brief sleeve note. What she has done is to choose 11 of Ferron's songs and one of her own ("Highway") and have Ferron sing them and play guitar, adding her own stringed instruments (violin, viola, cello) and a few other guest musicians here and there, including Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco. The copyrights date back to 1976's "Misty Mountain" (first heard on Ferron Backed Up in 1978 and then on Testimony in 1980), with several songs repeated from Turning into Beautiful. The presence of the violin and Bitch's background vocals in the arrangements sometimes bring to mind Bob Dylan's Desire, an album that featured violinist Scarlet Rivera and background singer Emmylou Harris. "The Cart," in particular has some of this flavor, as does the lengthy "It Won't Take Long." Ferron herself doesn't do much different in her performances, which is no surprise since she's been performing these songs for years. Bitch reserves her most radical arrangement for the final track, "In the Meantime," which is really presented as a coda to the album proper with a long pause following the preceding track "Shady Grove." JD Samson's beats give the song a hip-hop feel that works fine. Ferron has never hesitated to rerecord her songs, but this is the first time she has presented an entire album of them. Fans simply will have to patient until she gets around to writing a new batch of material, and meanwhile they may enjoy these new versions of old favorites.


Born: June 2, 1952 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Cana

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

In listening to Ferron's music, audiences are allowed to acknowledge the passage of time, people, memories, and hopes through her poetic metaphors. Her familiar vernacular, direct statements, enlightened associations, warm and husky voice, and engaging stage presence have permitted identification with her experiences and her process, her struggles and her wisdom, her universal anguish and strength. For a time beginning in 1986, however, many of her followers began to wonder about and mourn her momentary...
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Boulder, Ferron
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