By Anita Stewart, Managing Editor
New Album Review: “Long Time Coming” by Rounder Records
Release Date: August 20, 2021
Well, the album title is just perfect. Speaking for myself and other huge fans of this artist, it seems like we have been waiting for eons for this studio album to come out. Even though most of Sierra’s fans have already heard many of these songs during her live performances just about everywhere and her presence on YouTube and other socials–there are certainly some surprises and special collaborators on this album. Her music is truly magical and takes the listener to another time and place. Most of the tunes sound like the old classic country (think Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline) but Sierra is unique, knows how to bend those genres and add in her special artistic flourishes and need to mention that her songwriting abilities are stellar!
This artist is truly busy and probably one of the hardest working young ladies in the biz. Hailing from West Virginia, she was bitten by the music bug as a child. Early on, she led a nomadic life, hopping trains, traveling to all parts of the country, living in her van and busking anyplace she could. She finally settled in Nashville in her late 20’s and was noticed by Rounder Records (Sarah Jarosz, Billy Strings, Samantha Fish, Alison Krause) in 2019 who signed her immediately after seeing one of her live shows. Rock at Night covered her last October when she released two singles from this album and you can check out that story HERE.
The 12 track album was co-produced by Stu Hibberd and 10-time Grammy Award-winner Gary Paczosa who has worked with Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, Gillian Welch to name a few. “Long Time Coming” is an album that defies categorization and even a specific genre as the artist herself is so eclectic. “I want my music to be like my mind is—all over the place,” says Ferrell. The LP was recorded at Southern Ground and Minutia Studios in Nashville.
“A lot of us are taught to wake up, go to work, make money, eat, sleep, rinse, repeat,” says Ferrell. “It’s so easy to get caught up in that nine-to-five routine, and end up numb and dulled-down to everything. I want my music to help people break away from that—to get lost in their imagination, and start seeing how magical the world can be if you just pay attention.”
“The Sea” with some bossa nova rhythms, a saw played for the eerie, theramin-like wail and some great fiddle work. Sierra’s vocals shine here. “Jeremiah” was previously released and very bluegrass, love the story about a not so moral guy being told with the lyrics. Sarah Jarosz does some background instrumentation on the octave mandolin and banjo. “Bells of Every Chapel” was also previously released, the title being created while watching a TV show. A pure country song! Billy Strings helps out on acoustic guitar. “At the End of the Rainbow” is an old timey, 20s-30s honky-tonk ditty, sounding very retro with the wind instruments, slow tempo and lots of vocal flourishes. “West Virginia Waltz” was written while traveling and strumming the guitar in the back seat. A nostalgic, slow tempo song about love and leaving. Love the mandolin and guitar during the break. Just beautiful! “Silver Dollar” shows off the fiddle and banjo with lyrics about money and marriage not being important for real love. “Far Away Across the Sea” is my favorite off of this album–a gorgeous tune about memories of a long distance romance that includes Spanish rhythms, tango and calypso sounds, staccato trumpets and mariachi guitars, stunning! Special guest on this track is Nadje Noordhuis on trumpet. “Why’d Ya Do It” was also a previous release and made even more amusing by the retro sounds and the echoing of the rhythms of the previous song. The lyrics of undying love are like a manifestation or spell as she tries to create those same feeling in the object of her affection. The accordion adds a harmonic punctuation.“Give It Time” is very retro and pure country. “In Dreams” is a beautiful song and a loving, longing short film-like video recreating the dream that Sierra has about her potential lover. Lovely, plaintive steel guitar. “Made Like That” is a self reflective and nostalgic tune, leaving the small town and what happens after that. With beautiful acoustic guitar and backing vocal arrangements this is a stand-out. “Whispering Waltz” is a beautiful 3/3 time ballad, therefore a real waltz. Sierra’s vocals and the lyrics are emotional and melancholic with a soft tempo and violins backing the acoustic arrangement. A perfect ending for this remarkable album.
Rock at Night says: the expertly crafted songs, arrangements, hooks, bright lyrical concepts give listeners hope for the future, for love and assurance that they are not the only ones having such deep emotions. With top notch mastering and arrangements of the different songs and various genres, this is an album to keep in the player for a long time, even if one does not favor country music. While listening, you will soon find yourself singing along and tapping your toes! Can’t wait for more from Sierra!
If Sierra is coming to your town on tour dates and festivals scheduled across the country (starting August 29th) be sure to get your tickets right away as some of these dates are already sold out. She is appearing with such luminaries as Shakey Graves, Rising Appalachia, Lucinda Williams and many more. Purchase the album, merch and get tour info HERE. For her older released material, check out the Bandcamp account linked below.