Melissa Ferrick celebrates CD release at Fairfield Theatre Company
Published 4:18 pm, Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Melissa Ferrick didn't think she could trust anyone ever again.
"I found out I was being cheated on and lied to," she recalled of a serious relationship that ended in late 2011.
Shocked and devestated, Ferrick avoided friendships and romances for months; she stopped writing songs.
Then, in March 2012, she churned out three songs in just a few weeks.
"The truth is that happened when a person who had been out my life for a long time came back into my life," Ferrick said, "and that was the beginning of me feeling again after this horrific betrayal."
Serendipitously, more and more friends -- many of them musicians -- began to rematerialize.
This "family I inherited," as Ferrick put it, not only helped her survive a difficult period -- they helped her record the richest album, both sonically and emotionally, of her career.
"What's that saying? You've got to empty your hands to hold something?" said Ferrick, who stops at Fairfield Theatre Company's StageOne to celebrate the release of her upcoming 12th studio album, "the truth is," on Wednesday, May 22. "I'm learning how to trust again."
Opening with the somber breakup ode "Wreck Me," "the truth is" (MPress records) unfolds chronologically, leading listeners from the end of one relationship to the beginning of another. It's a staggering journey, one that lends itself to the signature aggression and barebones arrangements of this fiery singer/songwriter.
But Ferrick turns that expectation on its head. On "the truth is," the angst in her voice melts into a soft, incandescent haze; the songs overflow with lush, lilting melodies punctuated by steel pedal guitar, mandolin, cello and dobro.
After playing a few shows with Field Report -- the folk band led by Christopher Porterfield, a former bandmate of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon -- Ferrick's "brain exploded" with the notion of fashioning a fuller sound.
"I was half-way done writing the record, and I started thinking historically about how I've recorded a main guitar part with one track," she said. "But, I heard (Field Report) play and I thought, `Why not record the same guitar part, but layer it?' "
That idea snowballed, with Ferrick adding more and more layers of instrumentation as the recording process progressed.
And she got a little help from her friends: fellow singer/songwriter Paula Cole, bassist Richard Gates, pedal steel player Matt Pynn, singer/dobro player Natalia Zukerman, cellist Ro Rowan, mixer Trina Shoemaker, engineer Rafi Sofer, drummers Steve Scully and Dave Brophy and background singers Anne Heaton and Rose Polenzani.
Cole, who lends her vocals to the opening track, was one of those friends who came back into Ferrick's life.
"I ran into her at Berklee, and we realized we only lived 20 minutes away from each other," said Ferrick, who played on Cole's demos while they were classmates at Boston's Berklee College of Music.
That was one of Ferrick's most joyful realizations -- that even though she had lost touch with a few friends, they were never too far behind. Now, she's embracing the idea of her "inherited family" -- both in her personal life and in the studio.
"I used to get in my car with a guitar, but now, I get in a van with five or six people," she said. "I was so broken in my soul. I just had to welcome them in and ask for help."
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Fairfield Theatre Company's StageOne, 70 Sanford St., Fairfield. Wednesday, May 22, 7 p.m. $22, $19 for members. 203-259-1036, www.fairfieldtheatre.org.