Ferron: A Road Song Repaved

Friday's Pick

  • Song: "Girl on a Road"
  • Artist: Ferron
  • CD: Boulder
  • Genre: Folk
Ferron 300

In "Girl on a Road," Ferron (at right, with collaborator Bitch) sings with the frankness of a close friend and the insight of a therapist. courtesy of Ferron hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of Ferron

When Canadian singer-songwriter Ferron was 15, she hit the road alone. She had a single shopping bag with a change of clothes, a toothbrush, a waitress uniform, and a Leonard Cohen LP. Little did she know then, but one day her own songs would be compared to Cohen's for their depth of word-craft, intimacy, and wisdom.

Ferron's new album Boulder — her 14th release in 30 years — offers a stripped-down reworking of 10 songs, including the autobiographical "Girl on a Road." Ferron has always showcased her fears, philosophies, desires, and hopes with the frankness of a close friend and the insight of a therapist. It takes a moment or two to realize just how sturdily built her lines are, such as the recollection of the day she ran away from home: "I remember the morning / It was the closing of my youth / When I said goodbye to no one / And in that way faced my truth."

"Girl on a Road" isn't a confession filled with self-pity. When Ferron screws up, she admits it: "I met you in the summer, I left you in the fall / In between we did some living, I'd like to think that's all / I see that words can be like weapons, no matter that they're small / I used three tiny words on you / then beat it down the hall."

For Ferron, this new CD marks yet another milestone, as she passes the torch to a younger generation of women musicians — like Bitch, the indie-rocker who produced Boulder, and like Ani DiFranco who sings backup in "Girl on a Road." Bitch's icy violin playing, along with scraps of feedback and a lonely, tolling piano, create a darker soundtrack for "Girl on a Road," emphasizing one of Ferron's recurring themes: that the answers to life's big questions might lie just around the next bend.

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This story originally ran on June 27, 2008.

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