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Melissa Ferrick


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Contemporary folk, folk/rock

Status:

Most recent release, Melissa Ferrick (2015)

See also:

Melissa Ferrick's site

Wikipedia's entry for Melissa Ferrick

Comparisons:

Musical rhebus: Melissa Etheridge minus Bonnie Raitt plus early Sinéad O'Connor, with traces of Tracy Chapman and Lone Justice. (gmcdonald@furia.com)

I think Melissa Ferrick sounds most like Amy Ray (of Indigo Girls) at points, myself.... (meth@smoe.org)

Alanis Morissette and Ferrick REALLY sound a lot alike. The accents, the pronunciation, the general voice. Very similar. The musical styles are much different, of course, and so are the lyrics and topics written about. (NyxNight@aol.com)

If I had to make a comparison, I'd say she sounds a bit like Alanis Morissette crossed with Ani Difranco, with every ounce of the energy and passion which that kind of comparison implies. (Toss in some Bob Mould for good measure; she's a fan and it shows.) (drumz@best.com)

In some ways she sort of reminds me of Ani Difranco, though she's certainly not an Ani clone. I guess it's the way she plays her guitar and the really funny between song banter. (mcurry@io.com)

Covers/own material:

Own material, occasional covers in concert (including "Jessie's Girl" and "Blister in the Sun")

General comments:

meth sez she'd be happy with Tori Amos singing a laundry list. stick an acoustic guitar in Melissa Ferrick's hands, and I'd probably put up with the same. Ferrick *attacks* life, both the happy and the sad, with her voice, with her guitar, with her words. If she gets depressed, she gets over it—and we get an anthemic reminder to appreciate what we have. On her live album, she says at the introduction to "Willing to Wait" that, "I told them that this should have been the single. Maybe then I wouldn't be looking for a new label, but then who's to say that's not a good thing?" I think few performers could be so pragmatic about their careers after being dumped by their label, but Melissa Ferrick seems to be willing to make her own way on her own terms. (burka@jeffrey.net)

Take Ani Difranco's guitar, cross it with Alanis Morissette's voice, and Dar Williams' accent, and you get a guitar-playing, great-voiced sack of nothing. Take all those things and add a great talent for songwriting, and you get Melissa Ferrick. Wonderful, mostly acoustic compositions of love, loss, politics and pain. (Nyxnight@aol.com)

The consensus seems to be that Willing to Wait is a better album than Massive Blur, and I'd have to agree. Massive Blur has some great songs, but it does seem to fall off in the second half, and in general it feels like the work of a singer-songwriter who's still trying to find her voice. The songs on Willing to Wait are wonderful almost without exception; one of my top of 1995. (8/95, drumz@best.com)

I've been a big fan of Melissa's since Massive Blur first came out. I think her songwriting is great and the steely intensity to her voice, along with her ability to crack her voice at the right places, at times almost yodeling, just really appeals to me. Plus, it just seems I can really relate to her songs. (jjhanson@att.net)

Melissa Ferrick has more intensity than most acoustic-guitar-on-the-lap American folksingers, but she does nothing to break out of the narrow confines of that genre. I think you'd have to connect with her on some extra-musical level—share her worldview and politics—to feel an affinity for her music. My theory for the homogeneity of her audience. (lissener@wwa.com)

I've just discovered Melissa Ferrick...I only have Skinnier, faster, live right now but I'm LOVING her!!! (RocketsTail@aol.com)

Melissa is great, especially live. I highly recommend you run out and grab Everything I Need and her first live album, Melissa Ferrick + 1. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Her Everything I Need is one of my albums of this year (excluded from the official list for not actually coming out this year, of course), but I then followed it up with Willing to Wait, which dampened my enthusiasm a bit. Bad thing to say, I know, but in my opinion, while it's a step upward and onward from Massive Blur, it trails behind Everything I Need, which serves me right for listening out of sequence. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Melissa is an absolute dynamo. If you like attack guitar of the acoustic variety (á la Ani DiFranco and Pamela Means), you'll love Melissa. (meth@smoe.org)

Comments about live performance:

Her concerts are spellbinding, but if you can't make it to one, her albums provide a more-than-acceptable surrogate. (8/95, drumz@best.com)

She's a fantastic live performer. Especially her encore when she performed "Jesse's Girl," which had the baby dykes (the audience so termed by a lesbian friend who saw Melissa Ferrick touring Massive Blur a couple of years earlier) in the audience going nuts. (c. 1996)
     I just saw Melissa play an abbreviated set at DC's Pride festival and she was, er, somewhat out of control. In a good way, as far as I was concerned, but I think my partner was a little off-put (he's always liked her CDs, but has never seen her live). Given that she was only given 20 minutes, she ended up playing a few songs and a few medleys of songs. The most striking was "Drive", off of Freedom, which she started using the opening verse of Prince's "Darling Nikki" and which seemed devoted to the purpose of getting every young lesbian in the audience into bed with her. (6/04, burka@jeffrey.net)

I've never been a big Melissa Ferrick fan. I picked up Massive Blur and I liked it but never felt particularly compelled to listen to it on a regular basis. So I was a bit surprised by how much I loved her two performances. Maybe the newer material just clicks with me better than the older stuff, or maybe her cds just don't do justice to her talent, but I thought she was *great*. She certainly was talkative and seemed to be in a really good mood. Anyway, I highly recommend seeing Melissa perform if you get the chance. (c. 1997)
     I saw Melissa last night at the Iron Horse and she was simply amazing. She was in a great mood and very chatty, which is of course a good thing, and she did two new songs that may be on her next CD, all the usual favorites and her version of Violent Femmes' "Blister In The Sun"! It was a really great show. This is the fourth time I've seen Melissa live and she seems to just keep getting better and better. (6/99, mcurry@io.com)

I've been to about 50 or 60 concerts in the last few years, and not any greater than Melissa Ferrick on March 11, 1999, at Kalamazoo College. This woman is the reason we have live music and don't just listen to CDs. Incredibly intense live, with between-song banter that's really funny. I have never seen a singer so captivate an audience, and she did it with her fantastic voice and the best guitar playing I have ever seen. And even scarier—I'm not sure I even got the best. She didn't play a lot of my favorites—"The Juliana Hatfield Song", "Asking For Love", "Happy Song", not her cover of "Jessie's Girl"—but still completely enthralled me. I often leave concerts disappointed a certain song wasn't played, but with Melissa Ferrick's show, I was instead totally entertained nevertheless. She has a vibrant intensity on stage, and her energy and stories were captivating. What a wonderful concert! Highlights included "Massive Blur", "Willing to Wait", "Everything I Need", and it's impossible to pick out any more from this incredible performance. (miazgama@pilot.msu.edu)

Definitely check her out. I saw her perform live in a coffee house and it was quite incredible. She's very intense and she has one of the more unique voices in the business, in my opinion.
     It was a fairly solid show, at a surprisingly nice venue, but Melissa seemed a little out of sorts—not real pleased with the crowd (they wanted to sit on the dance floor rather than stand or dance). So, no encores, but a pretty solid set. She's got a drummer and bassist with her on this tour—the first time I've seen her for about 5 years.
     She focused primarily on new stuff and stuff from the latest album Freedom. I was surprised by the number of songs I hadn't heard before. The oldest song she played was "Willing to Wait"—which she opened with—nothing of the first album. :( The closer was a pretty cool song—combination gay anthem/fan appreciation/life on the road song. She also did something I've never seen her do before—a cover—of Ani Difranco's "Untouchable Face" and also a medley of assorted songs with one of her own—forget most of them now except I know it ended with a rockabilly sounding "I Kissed a Girl" and "Roxanne".
     Anyway, wished it would have been a longer set with more old stuff—but that's just my taste. Overall a good show, that surprisingly had a very good turnout, but wished there would have been an encore.
     She always puts on a good show. (9/00)
     Melissa Ferrick is a great performer—I really like her. She's one of the best "girl with guitar" performers I've ever seen. (3/04, jjhanson@att.net)

I was a bit startled when I first came in the club, when I saw this small, thin woman on stage in a loose tank top and baggy jeans and sneakers, playing this guitar that looked really big for her body. I didn't recognize her, but that voice. I recognized that voice. I tried to think of how to describe it, and I thought maybe like coffee, smooth, but sharp, an acquired taste. Or maybe like crushed velvet, which is smooth, but also sort of rough when you rub it. That powerhouse voice. It was really strong, and sounded smoother to me than on the albums. Her guitar playing is incredible, and even though it was a solo show, it had a very full sound. She seemed very natural, down to earth, and looked like she was really enjoying herself. She didn't talk much, but she did tell some funny little jokes and stories. I missed the first part of the show, but I heard her play a lot of songs, from all of her albums. Fantastic show. (6/99, JoAnn.Whetsell)

There have been a number of comments about Melissa's recent shows, and I have to agree that I've never seen her this pumped up before. Her set was very aggressive. She attacks her guitar in that frenzied ani difranco-style, and played fast and furious. Despite later learning that she is going in for throat surgery soon, I thought her singing was more open and stronger than it's been in the past. She has a somewhat odd, pinched singing style, and I was amazed at how she really opened up and sang on some of her newest songs.
     Another striking aspect of the show was that it contained no moments of bitterness. Since her bad experiences with being on a major label, she's been pretty angry about it, but right now she just seemed really happy with where she was at. This didn't seem to diminish the intensity of the show at all, and made it more fun to watch.
     So, in case it wasn't clear, that's an enthusiastic recommendation to see Melissa Ferrick if she comes to your town. (7/99)
     Seen her tons of times, but stumbled across her in a very late night jam at Folk Alliance. I don't think I'd seen her unplugged before. She's got a more powerful voice then I realized. (2/03, neal)

I saw her recently accompanied by a drummer. Although she was only playing an acoustic guitar, she managed to sound like a five-piece band in that configuration. (It always amazes me how well she's able to get a bass line going on the guitar.) She had a few new songs, which really rocked. (1/01)
     This past Sunday evening woj and I attended a great show at The Space in Hamden, CT. Melissa jumped on stage and declared "So I think I have an ulcer" while she strapped on her guitar. That pretty much set the tone for her show: 90 minutes of kickass musicianship interspersed with side-splittingly funny shtick in between songs. The two came together during "Drive," during which Melissa flat-out stated "I have to play this every night, so I try to have fun with it". (I'll never look at a television remote control the same way again. ;) It was the best Ferrick show I've seen in quite some time, just a lot of fun all around. (10/08, meth@smoe.org)

Recommended first album:

i'd say buy willing To wait without waiting since it really is a remarkable album. pick up Massive Blur in a used bin if you see it, but don't buy it for full price. go see her live if you ever get the chance. (circa 1995, woj@smoe.org)

I would recommend Everything I Need if you want a studio album; it really captures her intensity of her shows. But Melissa Ferrick +1 is superb, if you don't mind buying a live album first. (miazgama@pilot.msu.edu)

The best CD to start with from her, in my opinion, is willing To wait. I was incredibly turned off by Massive Blur, and couldn't understand why people on ecto were going so nuts over her. Then I heard a song from Massive Blur on the radio, and I've been an unabashed Ferrick fan ever since. (meth@smoe.org)

Recordings:


Massive Blur

Release info:

1993—Atlantic—7 82502-2

Availability:

Fairly wide availability, although you may have to order it

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Alain Johannes—guitar
Natasha Schneider—keyboards
Gavin MacKillop—keyboards, background vocals
Marika Tjelios—bass
4 O'Clock—drums
Susan Cowsill—background vocals

Produced by:

Gavin MacKillop

Comments:

Massive Blur had some great songs, but in my opinion it suffered from a serious drop off in quality about halfway through. I think it also showed Melissa Ferrick sounding a bit confused about whether she wanted to be a bandleader, or a solo artist backed by a band, so that a lot of her amazing stage presence just didn't come through on the album. But you just have to come back to this one, don't you? (drumz@best.com)

Massive Blur didn't impress me at *all*, I could hardly get all the way through it. (5/95, meth@smoe.org).

well, the stuff on her first album, massive blur, is all in the same vein—poppy, guitar-based stuff. i really didn't like that album when i first picked it up, but later listens (like a year or so later) were more positive (possibly because i finally read the liner notes and noticed some of the names in her studio band). those later listens were inspired by her second album which is quite a bit different. she appears to have wrested control of her musical direction and gone back to her coffeehouse roots. (woj@smoe.org)

"Happy Song" is not typical of the rest of Melissa's work. Most of her stuff is not nearly so happy. In fact, it's rumored she wrote "Happy Song" because her record company said, "Can't you write a happy song?" (8/95, jjhanson@att.net)


Willing To Wait

Release info:

1995—Atlantic Records—82747-2

Availability:

Wide availability, or at least you can order it

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick—guitar, vocals

Guest artists:

Marika Tjelios—bass, background vocals
4 O'Clock—drums, percussion
Julie Last—background vocals

Produced by:

Julie Last, Melissa Ferrick, Marika Tjelios

Comments:

I think it's a much better album than her first. This time she's definitely found her voice; Willing To Wait is the work of a strong songwriter who just happens to be backed by a band on about half the tracks. (5/95, drumz@best.com)

Great second album by this highly overlooked artist—shows more depth and maturity in her songwriting. And unlike Melissa Etheridge, (with whom she's often compared), this Melissa knows how to sing passionately without repeating herself and yelling real loud. (A sentiment I stole from somewhere but is so appropriate I thought I'd repeat it.) (jjhanson@att.net)

Willing To Wait is in my top albums for the year. I still can't stand Massive Blur for all that, but that's just me...—There is not a bad track on this disc. I can't stand her debut, but this one more than makes up for it. Wow. (1995, meth@smoe.org)

I absolutely *loved* Ferrick's first release, Massive Blur, and rushed out to get this one. I was not let down. I can't say whether I prefer the more rock-oriented production of the first album, or the stripped-down folkiness of the second, but the same wonderful song writing is there, not to mention a groovacious voice, and exciting arrangements (it's amazing what you can get out of a guitar and a drum...). I don't know if there are any ectophiles out there who would disagree with me that Ferrick's sophomore release blew the first one out of the water. None of this slump crap, she went from great (well, okay, not everyone loved the first album) to mindboggling (and there are lots of ectophiles who'd agree on that part). Thus, I was crushed to hear she'd lost her contract with Atlantic (don't they understand that there's a market for lesbians named Melissa who play acoustic guitar?!) (burka@jeffrey.net)

Favorite Track: "Willing To Wait". (Nyxnight@aol.com)

12 really superb songs point to a powerful being as source. This adds another artist to the list of people sure to be producing quality work for a long time in the future. (jsutton@rahul.net)

I don't like this as much as some others on ecto do. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

willing to wait didn't grab me as much as i thought it would considering the one song of hers i have heard, "happy song" (which is off the first album, not WTW, anyway :). actually, i didn't come away with much of an impression of this album, i think i will have to listen to it again. i know i liked it enough to buy it when/if i ever have money to throw around again.... (damon)

A great discovery. (abehrend@direct.ca)


Melissa Ferrick +1

Release info:

1997—Originally released by Hidden Water, now What Are Records?

Availability:

Can be ordered from online sources and the label

Ecto priority:

Must have

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick—vocals and guitar

Comments:

Fortunately for me, Melissa Ferrick has kept plugging along. And this indie release is enough to keep me happy. Live, acoustic, and fiercely fun. The new material is great, and the Willing To Wait-styled versions of old (and older) material is great as well. It's a good mix of new material with stuff from the first two albums. And for those who liked the stripped down Willing To Wait more than Massive Blur, it's nice to hear the oldest songs in the solo-acoustic style. (burka@jeffrey.net)

I just got Melissa Ferrick +1. I'm listening to it now. Any new Melissa is good Melissa :) This cd is just her and her guitar live in front of audiences in Boston and CA. It has banter between songs; twelve songs with the last one being "'Till You're Dead" and an encore tacked onto that track :) I love that song! her voice gets a little raw, but hey, she's cool. (4/97, paul2k@aol.com).


Everything I Need

Release info:

1997—What Are Records?

Availability:

Available at online sources or through the label

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick—vocals, acoustic & electric guitar, tambourine, flugelhorn

Guest artists:

Rob Laufer—electric guitar, bass, piano
Carl Sealove—bass
Vinnie Colaiuta—drums

Produced by:

Rob Laufer

Comments:

I think it's Melissa's best studio album. I've had slight problems with some of the production of past albums, but this one seemed perfectly matched. The album is mixed between quicker songs (the title song, "I Will Arrive", "No Particular Place to Be") and slower, ballad type songs ("Fear and Time", "To Let You See Me"). Both are superb. The title track is one of the catchiest, funnest songs I've heard in years, and the rest of the aforementioned tracks are excellent. Rob Laufer's production is the best I've heard yet; it really seems to capture her energy and passion. A great album, one of the best releases of 1998. (miazgama@pilot.msu.edu)

Good stuff, and a must for any Ferrick fan. It's a bit more, um, twangy than I'm used to from her. (meth@smoe.org)

Twangy? It's definitely a lot more of a rock sound than the last two albums, but twangy? C'mon! My first I-dunno-how-many listens were a little disappointing; I had a feeling she'd never live up to the brilliance of Willing to Wait, but now I find Everything I Need to be just as strong. Not just good stuff, but great. I didn't take to this album quite as quickly as the last studio album, Willing To Wait, but after a while, I came to appreciate it tremendously. A wonderful release. (4/99, burka@jeffrey.net)

I'd venture the observation that Everything I Need is her most brilliant album yet. The material runs the gamut from poppy rock with great hooks for radio through introspective acoustic folk. I think it will rise to the top of my Melissa Ferrick listening stack, replacing +1. For my personal tastes, I'm pleased with the vocals' place in the mix—not obscured by the instruments. (I know that's not everyone's favorite mix :-). (candre@enteract.com)

Not another Willing to Wait (will anything be?), but a strong release nevertheless. (Greg.Jumper@Eng.Sun.COM)

Everything I need wins the "obsession of the week" award. It was a big surprise; it has both catchy songs (I played the title track 10 times in succession during my first listen) and it has depth too. I am seriously hooked right now. (Yves.Denneulin@imag.fr)

Very confident, very personable. Everything I need is more accessible than previous oeuvres, I'm not sure it's even better, but certainly different. Reminiscent of Gabriel Dorman at times, not a bad thing. I bought it, I like it. (phclark@uswest.net)

I've been meaning to say that the cd that is currently stuck in my head is Melissa Ferrick's Everything I Need—what a fantastic album! I had my doubts about her based on Massive Blur (liked a couple of tracks, felt indifferent about the rest) as I mentioned here a while back, but I followed the Ecto guide and got Everything I Need, and now it's one of my best buys of the year so far. There isn't a dud track on it, and how she gets such a great and full sound out of just three people is beyond me. It has SUCH an energy and drive to it, even the slow songs have a compulsive beauty about them that sucks you in. I would love to see her live, and hope that she tours this side of the ocean at some point.
     Thanks again, Ecto people, for introducing me to some GREAT music! (adamk@zoom.co.uk)


Freedom

Release info:

2000—W.A.R. (2401 Broadway, Boulder CO 80304, U.S.A.)—7-44626-00372-3

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Marika Tjelios—bass
Dr. Groove—drum loops

Produced by:

Melissa Ferrick and Marika Tjelios

Comments:

Though a letdown after the brilliant Everything I Need, which I think is Melissa's strongest studio work to date, this contains some of her best songwriting ever—"Little Love", "The Stranger", "North Carolina", "Win 'Em Over", the sexy "Drive". I have a problem with a lot of the production here—particularly "Hold On" and the title track—but both songs came out marvelously live. And that's the key for Ferrick. When her albums capture what she does live (as Everything I Need did), they come out as masterpieces. When they capture what she does in the studio, they come out as merely great.
     I love it. At first, I was a little disappointed...but it's slowly grown on me and now I can't stop listening to it. Oddly enough, I think part of the problem with me getting accustomed to the new album was the title track, which is also the opening track. In all of Melissa's previous CDs, the title track has been one of my favorite songs, and definitely the most radio-friendly/catchy song. Not on this one. The song "Freedom" has powerful lyrics, but it's slow and one of the weaker songs on the CD, in my opinion. Track two is "Hold On," which is catchy but I don't like the lyrics or production.
     The rest of the CD is pretty darn strong, though. Track three is "North Carolina", which is wonderful. Talk-singing about traveling across the country with her foot "all cramped up from driving 14 hours" and sitting in a lonely hotel room "listening to all her money making peers", the song captures a feeling of dejected bitterness without ever sounding whiny—in fact it makes it self-empowering. The next track, "You Got a Lot of Nerve", is the bitter rant against her superficial, Hollywood-loving ex, who is trying to get Melissa back.
     The album's center is the wondrous track "Little Love", which is a little slow but is a bare-boned, honest, turmoiled love song. I love the lyrics. It's a riveting performance and song—Ferrick's voice has never sounded better.
     Other highlights include the uplifting "Win 'Em Over" and the erotic, sexy "Drive", which makes "Justify My Love" seem tame.
     The album's sound is raw and stripped-down. It's only acoustic guitar and bass, with some drum loops thrown in. Listening to it, you really get the picture of Melissa frustratingly playing away in some rundown studio. It's often raw and intense...you don't often get these types of emotions caught on record. That being said, oddly enough I don't think it captures the feeling of Melissa's phenomenal live performances as well as Everything I Need did. I'm somewhat disappointed Rob Laufer didn't produce the new record—Melissa produced it for herself, and while she did a fine job, I wonder what some tracks would have sounded like with Laufer's terrific ear in there as well. On the other hand, Melissa perhaps would not have had as much, well, freedom while recording the new album if she had a professional producer, and it may have eliminated some of the foibles that I love so much about her. Who's to know? (miazgama@pilot.msu.edu)

I don't think it's as strong as the last two studio albums, but it's still quite amazing. Lots of stand-out tracks, including "North Carolina" and "The Stranger." Mmmmm. New Ferrick. Always a good thing. (burka@jeffrey.net)

I agree that Everything I Need is Melissa's strongest studio album, but Freedom is growing on me. There's something very effective about the recording, in that it's strong and intense even with little instrumentation. "North Carolina" is a stand-out track, and I like "Freedom" a lot too. The reprise at the end is even better.
     Later: I just rediscovered her album Freedom last night, which I didn't like much at all when I first listened to it, but I think is good although it still needs some growing time. (JoAnn Whetsell)

It's a very nice, laid-back album. I had to open the window and cool off a bit after listening to "Drive" ... yow. :)
     Ferrick's guitar playing jumps out at me on this one more than her previous releases, for some reason. She's really, really good, and I knew that from having seen her play live, but on this disc that fact is showcased more than the others, or at least that's my initial impression. (meth@smoe.org)


skinnier, faster, Live at the B.P.C.

Release info:

2000—Right On Records, Inc. (PO Box 943, Ipswich, MA 01938)—7 11517 26242 2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick—lead bass, electric guitar, vocals

Guest artists:

Marika Tjelios—bass and moog

Comments:

Like Ani Difranco, Melissa Ferrick makes good studio albums but truly shines in live performance. So it's really nice to have this double cd set which has more of Melissa's recent stuff, including stuff from her last studio album Freedom, than the last live album, Melissa Ferrick + 1. It's great that the whole concert is kept, the in-between song chatter and stuff. She has a great sense of humor. And so much energy. Her guitar playing is amazing. And I like the songs from Freedom here much better than on the studio album. A must for fans. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Valentine Heartache

Release info:

2001—Right On Records (PO Box 943, Ispwich, MA 01938)—7 11517 26482 2

Availability:

Available online through cdbaby.com

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick—vocals, guitars, bass, horns

Guest artists:

Brian Winton—drums, percussion

Produced by:

Melissa Ferrick

Comments:

An excellent studio album full of songs, as the title implies, about looking for love, lost love, and other heartbreaks created by relationships, and some digs at the music industry. Melissa continues to amaze me with her ability to create such a full sound even when she's playing alone, or as here, with only one other person. The only misstep here is her cover of Patty Griffin's "Moses," which, as the last track, can easily be avoided. A must for fans and a great introduction for those not familiar with her work. (JoAnn Whetsell)

I enjoyed Melissa Ferrick's excellent new musical release. I expect it of her, so no surprises there, mere appreciation. Sorry. (jwaite@ucsd.edu)


Listen Hard

Release info:

2002—Right On Records (PO Box 943, Ispwich, MA 01938)—6 18106 26722 9

Availability:

Available online through cdbaby.com

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick—vocals, all guitars, violin, bass on 2 tracks, arrangements

Guest artists:

Brian Winton—drums, all percussion
Sara Lee—bass
Wil Masisak—organ, melatrone, piano, jupiter6
Jimmy Ryan—five string electric mandolin, mandolin
Edie Carey—background vocals on 2 tracks

Produced by:

Melissa Ferrick

Comments:

A great artist doing a sub-standard, predictable and/or formulaic album. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

70 People at 7000 Feet

Release info:

2003—Right On Records (PO Box 943, Ipswich, MA 01938, U.S.A.)—ROR2680

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick—guitar and vocal

Guest artists:

Brian Winton—drums
Anne Heaton—singing on "Crack the Mirror"

Comments:

Melissa has always been at her best live, and her live albums are the next best thing to her shows. Her third live album proves no exception. She has so much energy here, and fun, ad-libbing lyrics on several songs. The addition of Brian Winton on drums gives the album even more intensity than her previous live recordings. (JoAnn Whetsell)

The Other Side

Release info:

2004—Right On Records (PO Box 943, Ipswich, MA 01938)—6 34457 15882 5

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick—all instruments

Guest artists:

Teddy Goldstein—one small guitar part on "Street Light"

Produced by:

Melissa Ferrick

Comments:

Melissa Ferrick has always managed to sound like a complete band even when performing solo. On her latest record, she is her own band, complete with guitars and trumpets. The result is one of her best studio albums. It's very much her, with songs in the same vein as Valentine Heartache and Everything I Need, two other great studio albums, but with growth. She rocks out a bit more on this one, grooving hard on "Bad Bad Girl." There's something Ani-ish about her guitar playing on track 7. "Beijing," the opening track, is the sort of joyous tune I haven't heard much of since Everything I Need. And the closing track, "Westbound," a low-key song with an undertoned chorus, incorporates electronic elements I haven't heard in her music before and makes the instrumentals more prominent and more important than the vocals. I'm happy she's growing, and happier yet that I continue to like the direction she grows in. (JoAnn Whetsell)

In the Eyes of Strangers

Release info:

2006—Right On Records—007

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick—acoustic guitar, bass, electric guitar, ebow, vocals

Guest artists:

Julie Wolf—accordion, Hammond B3, polymoog keyboard bass, clavinet, grand piano, Wurlitzer, fender Rhodes, background vocals
Daren Hahn—drums, percussion
Ethan Allen—electric guitar, grand piano, bass
Natalia Zukerman—dobro, background vocals
Erin McKeown—electric guitar, background vocals
Rachael Davis—banjo, background vocals
Tegan Quin—background vocals

Produced by:

Ethan Allen and Melissa Ferrick

Comments:

This album was made for flying down the highway with no other cars on the road. It has a very open, free sound. Not all that similar to her last few studio albums, but not out of line with her overall catalog. More folk, more rock, more energy maybe? Just more fun? She mentions that it's the first time since 1995 that she worked with a professional producer. Maybe that has something to do with it? Who cares? Just turn it on and turn it up. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Live at Union Hall

Release info:

2007—Right On Records—6 18106 20082 0

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick—vocals, guitar

Comments:

This is Melissa's fourth live album, so the question is does a person really need all these live recordings? The answer is a resounding yes, at least for fans. It features songs mainly from her last 2 studio albums which were not represented on earlier live albums. Besides that, Melissa does a kick-ass live show as anyone who's seen her perform knows. And the live performances really bring the songs from the studio albums to life. That may sound obvious, but they really do have a different energy performed live. I feel like her live recordings really help me get to know the songs better. That stands for the new live record as well as the previous ones. As far as the In the Arms of Strangers tracks go, I prefer the live recordings to the studio versions (and I like the studio record). So bravo, Melissa, on another job well done. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Goodbye Youth

Release info:

2008

Availability:

See Melissa Ferrick's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick

Comments:

It's a minimalist production, just her and her guitar sounding like it was recorded in her living room. Musically it's not a departure, by now you pretty much know what you're getting, but I just love her songwriting. She means every word she's singing, and she makes you listen to every line. I would rate it as must-have for every Ferrick fan, and a good place to start if you're unfamiliar with her work but enjoy the stripped-down confessional-songwriter thing. (meth@smoe.org)

another consistently good album from a great live performer. (jjhanson@att.net)


Enough About Me

Release info:

2010—Right On Records

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Comments:

This took a while to grow on me, but over time I've come to enjoy this as a very good covers record. There are some tracks I really like (David Gray's "Babylon," and Radiohead's "Creep,") and most of the rest is really solid. Okay, I can't stand what she did with Aimee Mann's "Deathly," but it's easy enough to skip since it's the first track. The version of Patty Griffin's "Moses" here is better than the one on Valentine Heartache (though I still don't like it very much). As for the two re-recorded songs of her own (both from Goodbye Youth), I don't notice much difference between versions of "Bad Habit" and I prefer the original "Hypocrite" (though I like this one too). Overall what stands out and impresses most is how thoroughly Melissa makes these songs her own, the hallmark of a good cover. This is particularly the case on "Babylon" and on U2's "One." (JoAnn Whetsell)

Still Right Here

Release info:

2011—MPress—MP 6301-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick—vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar thru B3 cabinet, E-bow electric guitar, Nashville acoustic, drums, bass, tambourine, clapping, ukulele, piano, telecaster, loops

Guest artists:

Rob Hecht—fiddle (1)
Chris Kuffner—bass (1)
Oli Rockberger—piano (1, 2)
Alex Wong—string arrangement, drums, synth, programming, gopichand
Kaki King—electric guitar (2)
Tony Maceli—bass (2)
Consuelo Candelaria-Barry—piano (3)
Kevin Barry—electric guitar, lap steel (5, 8)
Richard Gates—bass (6, 8)
Thomas Eaton—accordion (10)
Ani DiFranco—background vocals (3)
Rose Cousins—background vocals (3, 5)
Rose Polenzani—background vocals (5)
The Roses—vocal arrangement (5)
Julie Hogan, Maddie Hogan, Will Hogan, Evie Hogan, Christy Smagula—gang vocals (10)

Produced by:

Melissa Ferrick; co-produced by Alex Wong & Thomas Eaton

Comments:

LOVE this album. It's got great energy and is up there with Melissa's best work. (JoAnn Whetsell)

The Truth Is

Release info:

2013—MPress Records—MP6302-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Melissa Ferrick—vocals, guitars, flugelhorn, drums, bass, ukulele, mellotron, clarinet, bassoon, Wurlitzer, snapping, shakers, tambourine

Guest artists:

Matt Pynn—pedal steel (1, 7, 9); background vocal (7)
Paula Cole—background vocal (1)
Steve Scully—drums (2-5, 7, 9, 11)
Richard Gates—bass (2, 6, 7); bass (compressed and delayed) (11)
Anne Heaton—piano (2, 7); background vocal (2, 3, 7)
Ro Rowan—cello (2, 3, 6, 11)
Joe McMahon—bass in chorus and bridge (3); bass (4, 5)
Natalia Zukerman—lap steel (3-5); dobro (9); background vocal (3, 5, 7)
Darcel Wilson—main background vocal (3); background vocals (9)
James Rohr—piano (5)
Dave Bophy—drums (6, 8)
Forrest O'Connor—mandocello (6)
Rose Polenzani—glockenspiel, background vocal (7)

Produced by:

Melissa Ferrick

Comments:

After some so-so albums Melissa has hit her stride again and is now 2 for 2 with great releases (following the excellent Still Right Here). So happy, for her and for us (her fans). (JoAnn Whetsell)

Further info:

Melissa Ferrick released the DVD Decade in 2006.

Melissa's song "The Juliana Hatfield Song" is extremely witty and funny, and gets lots of airplay on college stations, but it's never been on an official album. Reportedly, Juliana Hatfield herself enjoys the song, which criticizes the music industry's marketing of women. She also contributed a bombastic cover of "Feel Like Makin' Love" on the "Spirit of 73" compilation. (miazgama@pilot.msu.edu)

Compilation work includes:

  • "Feel Like Makin' Love"* on Spirit of '73—Rock for Choice (1995)
  • an acoustic version of "Everything I Need"* on Respond: A Compilation by Boston Women to Benefit Respond, Inc. (1999)
  • "Amazing Grace"* on Sunshine on Your Back Porch: A Celebration of Gennett Records (2005)
  • "Closer" on New Arrivals, Vol. 2—Artists Against Hunger & Poverty (2007)
  • "Heartbeat" on Pickathon: Indie-Roots Music (2009)
  • "Drive" on the Elena Undone soundtrack (2010)
*Track not available elsewhere.


Thanks to Neal Copperman, Mark Miazga, and JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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