An excellent roots rock debut album that bears repeated listening.
Singer-songwriter Regina Ferguson, who describes her sound as roots rock, grew up in the East of the United States (South Carolina), has travelled extensively and now resides in Topanga Canyon, California; a place where many artists have called ‘home’ over many years. ‘Fortune‘ may be Ferguson’s debut long player, but this a very good album, debut or not. The songs (all penned by Ferguson), the singing, the musicianship and the production are all great. Recording took place at Infinitespin Studio in Los Angeles, produced by Matt Linesch and mastered by Kevin Gray. The recording was done entirely in the analogue domain; recorded, mixed and mastered using 2” tape, giving an idea of the lengths taken to create and preserve the sound that you hear on the record. The cover shot, taken by film director Emmanuelle Pickett, who also directed a video for the song ‘Through the Pines‘, is evocative.
The LP’s opening track, ‘American Made‘ was written for Ferguson’s mother and aims to capture the struggle of a housewife in the “American Dream”; a stay at home mother, always yearning for something more. It starts relatively slowly, building towards a tremendous guitar solo (played by Fernando Perdomo), which gives way to a gentle piano outro. ‘Through the Pines‘ is a catchy, more up-tempo tune; it stems from a visit that Ferguson made to Tahoe National Forest and the noise made by the wind sweeping through the pine trees, sounding like a freight train. There’s some nice steel guitar embellishment here, and a very short, but effective, understated guitar solo. ‘Fortune‘ is about resilience; Ferguson wrote the song while working in, and not enjoying a regular job, to raise the money to finance the record. The song is up-tempo, with a strong melody. Once again the singing gives way to an extended guitar solo towards the end.
‘Pearblossom’ simply bobs along on the bass line played by Brett Simons and features guitar playing by Sam Babayan and Ferguson’s husband Rick Liebert; it was written after a night camping under the stars at the iconic Joshua Tree National Park. While ‘Late July’ has more of a country feel to it; where we find Ferguson thinking about her old life on the East Coast and reflecting on her current life on the West Coast, how the West Coast brings risk to her life that wasn’t present on the East coast; “You might feel the whole earth moving, like a battlecry, And if the fire burns, you might just lose your life, But that’s where you’ll find me, passing my time“. This song highlights the quality of Ferguson’s voice, including an agreeable vibrato.
Saving the best until last, closer ‘Carolinas‘ sees Ferguson again reflecting on her formative years living in Charleston, South Carolina, where buildings can’t be taller than the church steeples, resulting in it being dubbed Holy City. The song has a memorable tune, particularly the chorus.
This is an excellent album; with memorable songs, well performed; there’s a maturity to it that belies the fact it’s Ferguson’s debut. If I lived in the area of the Santa Monica Mountains, travelling to the UK would be nowhere near the top of my agenda, however it would be great to see Ferguson playing live in the UK someday soon.