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Howard Ferré, Journey’s End

March 21, 2011

Musicians find their way to ambient music along a variety of routes. Howard Ferré’s arrival here came via 25 years of doing sound design work for theater productions. It’s no surprise, then, that his debut CD, Journey’s End, works its way through a variety of scenes and moments, each with its own style and narrative. It’s a hard-to-pin-down disc that embraces spacey floats, so-cool jazz flavors and post-rock melodies with equal ease. For all the reach here, it’s a pleasure to say there aren’t any real misses. What’s more, Ferré lays out the work in an order that creates a sensible flow from airy to solid. The 9-minute opening track, “Before You,” is the most ambient piece here, the flows silken and wispy. Get to “Turning Point” and the surprise arrival of a downtempo beat is upstaged only by the late-track flair of a wailing guitar. This is my favorite track here, a soundtrack-worthy piece with a cool-striding attitude. Roll the credits as the hero turns his Corvette toward the sunset. “Stained Glass Reflection” practically has “insert lyrics here” written across its laid-back folk-rock pedigree. Cocktails are in order when  Ferré turns on the Latin-jazz electric-piano vibe in “5 Years.” Smoky-sweet and sexy, neatly augmented with rolls of thunder, and just the right amount of showy. The title track brings the disc to a poignant close with a sentimental melody and a sometimes bold symphonic backdrop. The camera circles. Pulls back. Fades out. Journey’s End perfectly showcases the wide scope of Ferré’s musicianship–not just his instrumental range or ability to write songs in several styles, but to tell a story with each piece that’s complete and understandable. On top of that, it all quite nicely stands up to repeat listens. A great end-of-day disc and a superb debut from Howard Ferré. This Journey’s End is clearly just the beginning.

Available from Howard Ferré’s web site.

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