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Ferris & Sylvester - Made in Streatham: Musical Poutine

 

 >> Ferris & Sylvester are making some of the truest Americana to come from Britain. Their new EP, Made in Streatham, mixes classic American influences into a genre all its own.

 

The Good:

 

Ferris & Sylvester, despite their British roots, know their way around American music. This EP could easily be out of Nashville, it’s got that classic southern drawl - not in the vocals, but in the sound. Twangy country or blues guitar, layered folk vocals, the occasional interjection from a jazz sax. It’s got that “sunset over a chrome diner” vibe that so many bands try for. The only difference is, Ferris & Sylvester actually make it happen.

 

Some credit for that feeling also has to go to the absolutely stellar mixing. You’ve got two vocalists, multiple guitars, percussion, and brass instruments, and absolutely nothing is lost in the fog. Everything stands out without sounding cacophonous, nothing is fighting for first place. Made in Streatham also has some of the best stereo splitting of any EP I’ve ever heard. Moving instruments entirely to the left or right speaker often comes off as a gimmick, but here it really serves to round out the sound.

 

The Bad:

 

While the production tries to make a full sound, Ferris & Sylvester could really stand to have a fuller band. It seems like a weird criticism for a band with so many accent instruments, but some more prominent bass and drums would really just move Made in Streatham to another level. It’s got sort of an open mic quality to it like the percussion is trying not to overwhelm a small room. A little more low-end could push their sound into Lake Street Dive territory, which is never a bad thing.

 

The biggest criticism, though, comes from that sense of replicated Americana. The Route 66 feeling comes from not just the sound, but the emotions behind classic American music. Country, jazz, blues, these are genres that often tell very personal stories. Ferris & Sylvester don’t have that. Their lyrics are upbeat and entertaining, but there’s no real substance to them. Paying careful attention to what those vocal harmonies are actually saying makes Made in Streatham feel more like a cheap reprint than an original pressing.

 

Review:

 

A wise man once said, “poutine is the most American food ever invented by Canadians”. Thinking about it, it makes sense: combining cheese, fries, and gravy sounds like an unmistakably American recipe. In that way, Made in Streatham is a sort of musical poutine: American ingredients, combined in a new way by a foreign country.

 

Any classic Southern genre can be found on this EP. Country, folk, blues, even jazz influences weave their way through each song. But while the sound is there, the feeling and depth that formed those genres seem to be out to lunch. 3.9/5 <<

 

 

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