There’s not much you can depend on in these topsy-turvy days but when a new album from Seattle’s Massy Ferguson heaves into sight, you can be guaranteed an invigorating injection of classic American rock. There’s no pretence with this band, it’s balls to the wall Americana with an emphasis on rocking out; short sharp songs with guitars blazing away and Ethan Anderson’s voice roaring. Back to a four piece with the addition of Fred Starr on keyboards joining the bass playing Anderson along with guitarist Adam Monda and Dave Goedde on drums, the band dive headlong into the songs. The album is more focused than the previous Run It Right Into The Wall (which reflected their love of the likes of The Replacements, Wilco, and Son Volt) with more emphasis on stories within the songs. Anderson puts some of this down to reading stories by Raymond Carver, Willie Vlautin and such and several of the numbers are autobiographical as on the opening Can’t Remember which is an account of first meeting his wife to be.
Can’t Remember is a frantic opener with pedal steel added to the vortex of squirreling guitars with Anderson recalling his altered teenage state and the waitress who eventually stuck with him. This youthful abandon is revisited throughout the album. Don’t Give Up On Your Friends is a shout out the gang mentality of teenagers delivered in a style not dissimilar to that of The Lemonheads, while They Want That Sound struts with the cocksure bravado of a teenager out on the town as Anderson recalls glory days and the band ramp it up like a youthful E Street Band. Momma’s In The Backseat is the epitome of this teenage gang romance as it all goes wrong on a late night rumble with the hero just wanting to wrap himself in his Star Wars comfort blanket when he gets home but unable to admit to that.
The mature Anderson turns up on Wolf Moon, the most tender song here with keening pedal steel, languid guitar and stately piano as he reflects on life’s lessons while Drop An Atom Bomb On Me, a song which has the punch of the Drive By Truckers, is an angst-riven apocalyptic mea culpa. Alongside these there’s the coiled energy of Rerun with its staccato guitar bursts and power pop keyboards and the elegiac Saddest Man, a glorious slice of sound.
All in all Great Divides is another great album from Massy Ferguson. They’re touring the UK in July, all dates here.