Folk purists will love the fact that the unhurried “Everything I Hold” features only singer-songwriter Jeremy Ferrara and his guitar. Ferrara played at open stages at folk clubs while in college in his native California, studying for a bachelor’s degree in physics. He met songwriter, producer, and recording engineer Mike Coykendall at a Sunday open mic night at Portland, Oregon’s renowned LaurelThirst Public House. They ended up recording this album over two days in December 2020 at Coykendall’s Blue Rooms Studio in Portland.
Ferrara grew up with a father who is a classical guitar player and teacher but is himself self-taught. His traditional fingerpicked guitar sounds simultaneously simple yet complicated enough to think that there are multiple players (or layers of recording) instead of just him. His style is a perfect match for the gentleness and innocence of his voice, which brings to mind Brian Wilson and a young James Taylor. Ferrara sounds shy but open-hearted and determinedly honest. He has been compared to Elliott Smith, but surely that’s only referring to vocal timbre and song structure. There is certainly none of Smith’s palpable darkness in Ferrara’s songs here, for all their confessional intimacy. One would expect some melancholy here and there, but even the songs that deal with problems and endings, such as “I Would Save You” and “Lover,” optimistically look to new roads and a better future: “So I’m lacing my boots, lover / And I’m walking away/ And I’m leaving my fears, lover / Yeah, I’m letting them stay… See now I’m calling you up / Just to hear you cry / And I’m opening my windows / Just to let in the light.”
The sweet opening track “Morning Light” was written during the pandemic lockdown, and is part gratitude list, part prayer. Its conscious embrace of light is another talisman against darkness: “So I thank you Northwest Sky / I thank you open road / I thank you morning light / For you I’ll never be alone.”
“Everything I Hold” leaves the listener, now a close confidant, with the image of a young troubadour in his Clarks desert boots and a guitar, eagerly facing the future with the Pacific Northwest sun on his untroubled face.