Ian McFeron "Summer Nights"
Ian McFeron has put together a tight outfit, as he always does. It’s bluesy and catchy with nods to early jazz and swing. No frills but like all the best bands everybody knows when to do their thing and when to pass the initiative to the next man. It’s stripped to the core, like a live show without the background hiss but retaining the atmosphere which is a credit to both McFeron and guitarist/producer Doug Lancio of Patty Griffin fame. They’ve wrung an earthy, organic sound out of Nashville’s Studio G which is immediately refreshing to the senses; you can hear musicians playing off each other as they are recorded live into the mix which leaves you yearning to hear it on vinyl.
Summer Nights is McFeron’s sixth album and he quietly goes about the business of writing and releasing his work, as well as looking after his own interests financially and commercially. But he’s no one man show performance wise and along with Lancio and regular cohort Alisa Milner on strings he has drafted in Ryan Adams’ bassist Billy Mercer and his Cardinals’ cousin Brad Pemberton on drums.
McFeron’s voice is similar to Adam’s, but more rustic, the type that sounds all the better for its imperfections, and it blends with Milner’s with understated poise reminiscent of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. It’s one of this album’s greatest strengths and is if anything underplayed.
‘Shine a Light’ and ‘I’ll Come Knocking’ open the album in high spirits before ‘Hard Since You’ve Been Gone’ brings us down again and by the middle of the album McFeron is lost in a deep reverie. Like a modern night walking Charles Dickens he ponders the world from a detached perspective searching for love, comfort and inspiration. It’s a little too easy to sit on the fence with 'Summer Nights' if only because the songs are so personal. Songs like ‘You’re still on my Mind’ and ‘Streetlight Serenade’ have an almost tragic beauty, unfortunately the tragedy is that the casual listener is at a loss what it all means.
There’s no doubt that this is a genuine statement from a prolific, independent artist who builds the road he travels and stays true to himself The statement, and its interpretation is a grey area. Nevertheless, 'Summer Nights' is a strong, introspective collection of troubadour verse and McFeron is a man with impeccable musical values.