Massy Ferguson’s Joe’s Meat & Grocery

By Brian Rock

Seattle based americana rockers Massy Ferguson deliver the goods on their sixth album, Joe’s Meat & Grocery. Serving up thick cut slices of heartland rock and roll, Massy Ferguson recall the high energy sound of 90’s alt rockers like Counting Crows, Fastball, and The Refreshments.

The album’s first cut is “Miles Away.” Jangly, Tom Petty style guitars and rapid-fire drum rim clicks propel the song into high gear from the first notes. Strident piano chords and harmonica add power and texture as front man Ethan Anderson sings, “We were broke before this sickness. And I don’t think that will change.” Lamenting the fate of a touring band that can’t tour during Covid, he calculates that the road to success just got a lot longer. But searching for a silver lining, he suggests, “You take what you’re owed and you give what you can spare. Just be honest with yourself and the rest just might be fair.” With this new insight, the band rocks happily along to whatever future may await, knowing that enjoying the journey is even more important than the destination.

More of a snapshot than a story, the lead song captures a single moment in time. Massy Ferguson applies that same zoom lens focus to highlight other scenes from life’s unfolding drama. “Save What Couldn’t Be Saved,” is portrait of a man haunted by his own addictions, but the swirling guitar and rising piano scales shed a touch of light on his darkness. “I Don’t Know Why,” is a moment of doubt dispelled by pounding drums and more gorgeous guitar work. “Off To See Rose,” captures the hopeful uncertainty of a new relationship with bouncy banjo accents. “Leave If You Want To,” is a snapshot of a lover’s argument. Filled with soaring guitar and pounding drums, the song’s energy captures the anger of the moment as Anderson sings, “I don’t see why the things I say like ‘sorry’ don’t feel right.” Steel guitar adds a layer of remorse and uncertainty as if he knows he will soon regret what he’s saying in the heat of the moment. “The Hard Six,” is a flat-out rocker that urges us to sometimes just take our chances and roll the dice. The band goes for a heavier Peal Jam meets The Cult sound on “Backspin” and “Sister Roll Up.” Rounding out the set is the tongue in cheek ballad, “You Don’t Bother Me.” Delicate piano notes set the mood as Anderson sings, “The rest of these dirtbags can’t hold a candle to you.” Perhaps not poetic, but definitely sincere, the song plays like a love letter from a curmudgeon.

Incorporating musical influences from The Refreshments to Reckless Kelly to Bruce Springsteen, Massy Ferguson plants themselves firmly in the Heartland Rock aisle of Americana. Guitarist Adam Monda, drummer Dave Goedde (and Anderson on bass) expertly combine those musical influences to cook up something completely fresh and engaging. And special attention needs to be called out to keyboardist Fred Slater, whose piano and organ playing are the secret sauce that adds extra flavor to each dish. Like Ian Stewart of the Rolling Stones, his contributions underscore the emotional impact of each song without being overpowering. The resulting synergy makes “Joe’s Meat & Grocery” a meaty, high energy, prime cut of americana.  |  buy  |  fb

Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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