Massy Ferguson Champion Blue Collar Rock and Roll on ‘Joe’s Meat & Grocery’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Photo credit: Rich Zollner

Massy Ferguson is a band that is somewhat hard to classify beyond the generic term rock band. That’s not a bad thing. In its history, the band has written the same sort of melodic sing-along songs that Tom Petty built his career on. And yeah, this may not be the first band that you add to your exercise playlist when your goal is to get sweaty. However, it is undeniably a rock band that also weaves a little country and other influences into its sound.

The band’s new album is Joe’s Meat & Grocery. The title is an homage to the store run by guitarist Adam Monda’s grandfather ran in Wenatchee, Washington, in the early 1900s. On a more symbolic level, it’s a fitting title for a band that has long been known for its gritty, blue-collar rock and roll.

It doesn’t take long to get a taste of the gritty, slice-of-life stories contained in these songs. “Save What Couldn’t Be Saved” is a song that contains some characters that are pretty hard up. One of the characters is let go from his job, has no savings, and is prone to “fits of rage”. The story is a tough one while the melody is some mixture of 90s rock in the guitar tone and The Band in the orchestration and especially the vocal harmonies. 

“Fire of Life” is a song that can take you on a ride. The verses of the song are laid-back, and the song begins with some lyrics, “I got the fire of life. I got the guiding light, and I know that I’ll stop thinking that you were right.” The lyrics seem especially apt for someone who is feeling good after getting out of a relationship that was less than ideal. In between the verses, the tempo picks up to the point that you might stomp your boots.

You can tell that singer Ethan Anderson has absorbed a variety of music, to the point that he keeps you guessing on what comes next. That, more than anything, is what makes it hard to classify this beyond with something more specific than rock band. “Sister Roll Up” is a good example. The guitar and vocals sound like your favorite grunge bands. As a counter to that, this tune also goes heavy on the harmonica that adds a bluesy sound to the mix while the keyboard sounds like something from a Stevie Wonder song. Immediately following that is “Leave If You Want To”, a song that opens with some sustained pedal steel and moves into a melody that brings Lucero to mind.

Joe’s Meat and Grocery by Massy Ferguson is an album that provides a good example of realistic storytelling combined with melodies that are easy to sing along with. If you’re already a fan of the band, don’t be surprised if this one ranks among your favorites. If you’re new to the band, this is a good introduction that will probably inspire you to seek out their other albums.

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