Fergus Maximus: Songs & Stories – CD Review
Adelaide’s Fergus Maximus (aka Ferg) has released Songs & Stories, a recording of his very first solo show, which took place at SCALA at The Austral Hotel in November 2014. Ferg, a long-time musician who has only recently discovered this solo-performer persona, has taken the unusual step of releasing two different versions of the recording – a six-track EP and an LP featuring twice that number of songs.
It is well-recorded; the simple arrangement of the performance makes for easy-to-discern lyrics, and a crystal-clear guitar sound, so listeners will get a similar experience to those sitting at the front tables on the night in question. The singing and the guitar work feature some of the rawness that is part and parcel of live performance; overall, both instruments make for good listening.
A self-proclaimed story-teller, Ferg writes songs about the things he’s seen, done and/or thought about. Some are simple yarns; some touch on deeper matters. One song on the EP, Regrettown, is a fine example of a more serious sentiment, while Derek and Myself Again are a little lighter. There’s a bouncy vibe to Just A Minute Or Two, and some poignancy in Fish. All up, there’s a consistency of mood to the entire set that transcends the changes in tempo, rhythm and lyrical content.
His tales of share-houses, cars, and harried office-workers are entertaining. Ferg obviously senses something of value in his spoken-word introductions, ascribing track numbers to each. Far too often, musicians fill the spaces between songs by mumbling into their shoulders so it’s refreshing to hear intros that are related to the songs, and help shed light on the compositions.
Ferg comes across as a good-natured guy, playing intelligent, gently hip, easy-on-the-ear pop-folk songs to his audiences. The CD artwork adds to the feeling of lightness and irreverence.
Songs & Stories is a recording made of a single concert, so there’s no re-takes, overdubs etc. As such, it’s an honest reflection of a Fergus Maximus show and it works pretty well. The strongest half-a-dozen songs appear on the EP version but, if you like what you hear, why not treat yourself to the 12-song version for some more songs and stories?