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Ferraby Lionheart Catch The Brass Ring Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

Like many of his contemporaries, his parent's record collection has done its work well.

Chris Jones 2008

With a press release that reads as if it's written for three-year olds, a record company keen on marketing him as 'nu-folk' and with a name that (if it's real) undoubtedly led to some 'issues' amongst his school friends, it's hard not to sigh with cynicism. But Ferraby Lionheart is, I'm relieved to report, actually very talented. This, his debut, following a home-recorded EP two years ago, is grown up enough to avoid the tweeness trap that seems to hamper many of his peers.

As comparisons are odious we won't resort to saying that he sounds not unlike Sufjan Stevens rubbing elbows with Beck (in his acoustic mode), but with a healthy dose of '70s songcraft. Oh, we just did… But one thing’s for sure, despite attempts to market him as a folky weird beard (and a childhood spent in Nashville obviously leads one to expect a dose of country in there, too) – our Mr Lionheart is, in fact, far more multi-skilled. And he hasn't got a beard either.

Like many of his contemporaries, his parent's record collection has done its work well. Far from serving up the threatened whackiness, Catch The Brass Ring is bursting with sweet '70s AOR, albeit with an acoustic guitar at its heart. Single, Small Planet, is a lovely, piano-driven and not unlike Elton John. A Bell And A Tumble is a jazzy little '20s-style shuffle that nods to Harry Nilsson. Un Balo Della Luna is bedsit lo-fi beauty, while Texas Sky sounds like nothing less than Ray Davies in his prime.

Ferraby’s voice is not unlike the flattened louche delivery of Rufus Wainwright (whose lush arrangements are another touchstone here), and like him this wears on the ears a little over the course of a whole album. To be honest, catch the Brass Ring is as stylistically indecisive enough to raise interest but not to give you a real sense of what the future holds. Luckily he's got a suitcase full of lovely tunes and as long as he keeps working on 'em he's got a real chance at staying the distance. Shame about the name, though…

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