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Ferrodyne: St. John's Day (Terra Malverde) 

From a critical viewpoint, you might worry if a band is recommended purely because its members are nice people, which is how more than one trusted musical adviser introduced me to Ferrodyne. They probably are good folks, but it's also excellent that the gentle Southwestern folk-rock on the debut CD by this local act is far more than nice.

The 10-song album was recorded at Tucson's Wavelab Studio, under the guidance of producer Craig Schumacher. It's a smooth, professional work, a hybrid of indie-rock and folk-country, with appealing arrangements that become more interesting the more you listen.

It's refreshing to hear the ambitious, original story songs and tone poems by singer-songwriter Doug Smith, who sings in a rich baritone. He doesn't limit himself to monosyllabic verbiage, nor to easy sentiments, and he knows the worth of a rich description and subtle humor.

The band and its production team know how to build emotions from sound, and just when to add seasoning courtesy of guest musicians. For instance, "Sold Out" would've been impressive on its own—with the chiming electric guitar by Chris Byrne, and Liza Byrne's funky rave-up bass—but the song becomes more interesting thanks to the atmosphere generated by Schumacher's organ and Neil Harry's pedal steel. Elsewhere, the film-noir mood is greatly enriched by Jacob Valenzuela's trumpet, Tom Hodgson's banjo and Schumacher's keyboards and vibes.

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