Nick Ferrio Wrings Emotionality from Simplicity on 'Television of Roses'
Published Jun 22, 2021Nick Ferrio lives in the world of Beatles-style rock — upbeat music that should be blasted on summer drives with the windows down, with lyrics that'll make your heart heavy if you ever stop to listen to them. This has been his calling card since his 2012 debut, Nick Ferrio and His Feelings, and while that album's country twang is mostly absent from his recent works, its spirit is not. As evidenced by his stints working with the Burning Hell and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, his musical prowess could never be doubted.
On his fifth album, Television of Roses, the Georgina, ON-based folk-rocker largely forgoes the layered complexity of his older works that gave songs such as "That's Not How I Remember It" (from 2017's Soothsayer) or "Anxiety" (from 2018's Have a Nice Day) depth and texture, in favour of using simplicity as the sonic bedrock of emotionality. When this clicks, the album soars. What sets Ferrio's music apart from his peers is an earnestness that shines through the tracks — tracks such as "The Dam" and "Worthy of Love," Ferrio bares his soul, digging into childhood trauma and present-day worries to lay something intriguing over the top of riffs that radiate warmth and familiarity from the first listen.
"The Dam" in particular is a huge breath of fresh air into the stuffy lungs of folk-rock. It's sonically stirring and lyrically powerful as Ferrio responds to a letter from his late mother where she asked him to remember her from "before her struggles with alcohol began." The gut-wrenching theme elevates the simple acoustic guitar riff into classic folk song territory.
Elsewhere, however, his palette sounds less inspired. This is shown in tracks like "Solid Maybe," which offer little interesting in terms of tone or lyrics, ultimately falling flat. The mid-tempo beat combined with heard-before riffs make its four minutes feel like a meandering and directionless take on the sounds of the Beach Boys, Sloan and Sam Roberts.
Television of Roses oscillates unevenly between these two modes, but fans of Ferrio and Beatles-esque folk rock will certainly find plenty to enjoy. (Independent)