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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Ferris Mudd

Ferris Mudd

Review by Julie Knispel

Ferris Mudd (the band) is a trio hailing from Alabama. Comprised of Steve Richard (lead vocals, lead guitar, guitar synth, acoustic guitar), Danny Dicus (bass, acoustic guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), and Lester Meredith (drums, percussion, keyboards, acoustic guitar, backing vocals), the band writes and performs progressive rock with a heavy melodic emphasis. Steve Richard’s vocals offer some degree of comparison to other high tenor singers in the field (Jon Anderson, of course, comes to mind), while also providing substantial guitar playing to the mix. Danny Dicus and Lester Meredith are a solid rhythm section, although the mostly slower material does not offer up severe shifts in complexity.

Ferris Mudd (the album) is a pleasant enough CD, and showcases a lot of skill, both from a performing standpoint and from a songwriting/arranging standpoint. The biggest issue is that the songs, while nicely melodic and sharply produced, simply don’t offer up the kind of memorable hooks necessary to make this an album that gets stuck in a CD player (or a listener’s head) with little chance of release. It’s a decent enough debut CD, offering examples of the band’s obvious skill and capabilities, but with an odd sense of restraint that does not suit the recorded material. Future efforts hopefully will rectify this, offering the band a greater showcase of what they have to offer.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Time To Fly
Steve Richard’s lead vocals hit some sweet high tenor notes on the opening track of Ferris Mudd’s debut album, with solid vocal arrangements adding backing vocals in just the right places. Richard also contributes some hot guitar solos on this upbeat, poppy rocker, which also offers up enough changes and shifts in tempo and rhythm to keep things from getting too samey.
The Move
Chiming acoustic and clean electric guitars keep this pleasant mid-tempo ballad moving forward. A nice enough song, it sadly fades from memory not long after finishing.
Over Your Head
The longest track on this album, “Over Your Head” opens with ominous symphonic keyboard textures, leading into crisply glistening guitar and a pulsing beat developed through electric piano and some nice bass/drum work by Danny Dicus and Lester Meredith, respectively. The song’s extended length gives the trio ample opportunity to show off what they can do as a band and make it the strongest track on this release.
Anyway
Richard’s vocals take on a slightly deeper, rougher tone on this piece. Arpeggio and subtle synth textures help to create a slightly bluesier, darker tone here. Dicus plays some nice melodic bass under Richard’s staccato chords, while the vocal arrangements are as lush as ever, with early Yes and CSNY as possible comparison points here.
Unrapped
Ferris Mudd’s production shines on this track, the shortest on the album. Faux-militaristic snare drumming and excellent stereo placement of multiple acoustic guitar parts add a little extra to this track, while Richard layers a nice, slightly overdriven, guitar solo over top.
End of Day
Bits of Steely Dan can be heard on “End of Day,” as the song offers up a slightly jazzier take on the band’s sound. Lush vocal harmonies and laser beam guitar are the hallmarks of this laid back, mellow composition.
Call It Your Own
The band stretches out a little more on this track, with synth textures and percussion sounds adding tonal colour not heard on the album previously. The arrangement here offers a little more complexity and syncopation, along with some sections verging on counterpoint. Despite this, the tone remains laid back, and even when the band breaks into quicker instrumental sections, the tempo remains oddly restrained.
You're Alone
Synth flute, acoustic guitar, and deeper vocals set this song apart from the rest of the album. The band’s typically lush backing vocals add substance to this piece, and Ferris Mudd’s predilections toward laid back tempo and textures suit this mournful ballad to a T. The extended instrumental section actually showcases some fairly hot interplay with a dynamic feel unlike anything else on this release. More songs like this one (and “Over Your Head”) would have been more than welcome.
 
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