State Of Gold
(County Fair Records)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
There aren’t many artists brave, confident or talented enough to record, play, mix, engineer and produce their album with virtually no participation from others. Add debut to the list and you can practically count the contemporary acts on the fingers of one hand who would take that risky of an artistic plunge. Regardless of the music, it’s impossible not to appreciate the effort that newcomer Ian Ferguson puts into his first album.
There’s nothing wrong with calling this a basement recording since it was birthed in that area of his mom’s house by jerry-rigging old computer hardware and software. While you won’t mistake it for a professionally crafted set, Ferguson’s edgy glam and retro-influenced rock works well with this rather primitive process.
Although the sound is relatively stripped down, guitars and vocals are layered on songs such as “Deep Beneath The Waves” and the opening title track, heavily influenced by early Kinks. Ferguson’s voice reflects some Lennon edge too which provides a handy if not entirely accurate Beatles reference to their more psychedelic era. Those familiar with Roy Wood will notice similarities, as well as to a more skeletal T. Rex.
Lyrics shift from the self-deprecating and witty on “I Fell Asleep Before The Night Began” to the more socio-politically minded “Tyrant’s Waltz.” There’s self-doubt in “All My Days,” where Ferguson sings, “Now I can’t even try, all my days,” affecting a Ray Davies drawl over a laconic melody. On “Late Last Night,” Ferguson drifts into a bizarre, gauzy, carnival-styled dream waltz. But it’s the overall vibe, split between grungy garage, twisty-mind expanding rock and even sweet acoustic folk that makes State Of Gold such a charming, often mesmerizing listen. It’s the ultimate solo project as we’re introduced to Ferguson; a new, bold face and one courageous enough to take full responsibility for his recorded work.