Dan Ferguson is a singer/songwriter based in London. Previously one half of the roots duo Young Causeway, he has spent his recent time developing songs for his debut solo album Use It Well. Ferguson’s style is rooted in blues, country and contemporary folk with all tracks featuring thoughtful lyrics and various instrumental backgrounds.
I was immediately struck by Ferguson’s voice in the first track “Mixed Up.” His vocal style is playful and funky, like a bluesy less annoying version of Jason Miraz. The lyrics were clever and catchy and the whole thing was just a lot of fun.This song had a rough raw quality in the recording, but it turned out to be a stand-alone thing. The rest of the tracks sounded more polished.
The following track “Sad Old Man” had a folksy old-school vibe. The vocals reminded me of The Beatles “Rocky Raccoon” because of their lighthearted, almost satirical feel. One of my favorites on the album was the next track “Only You &I” which was a complex arrangement of a love song with a soft pretty melody and a swaying sort of feel.
The standout track for me was “The Flood.” What a cool song! The piano helped turn the haunting vocal melody into a flowing soundscape that came in waves, perfectly fitting for the title and poetic lyrics. I loved it. The rest of the songs took more of a country folksy, twangy turn and although I loved the songwriting and vocals, the peak of Use it Well was definitely the first four tracks. I found “Learn to Behave” strange and distracting and “Wise Young Man” almost too country to fit into the flow of the previous tracks. I did enjoy the final track “I’m a Sinner” but still longed for the stylistic complexity of the beginning tracks.
Dan Ferguson is quite a songwriter. Anyone who can create a song like “The Flood” has layers and layers of talent, some of which I suspect hasn’t surfaced yet. Use it Well is an impressive debut, but I feel like the first and second halves are almost two entirely different albums. I’m definitely a bigger fan of the first half and hope to see more of that mojo in future work. Ferguson is a sensitive talented musician who I have no doubt has a bright future, and I look forward to following it.
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