Album Review: Great Divides by Massy Ferguson

“…taking in prairie vistas, 50s imagery and a heavy dose of 90s modern rock vibrancy…”

If you don’t know ‘owt about Massy Ferguson, it comes as quite a surprise for a male voice to launch in with a big rock number heavy with barely tamed electric guitar, percussion and keys. 

The next song stays confrontational with its title and opening line: Drop An Atom Bomb On Me. It’s much more restrained, at least until it gets to the harmonica solo. 

Soon enough we explore yet another different edge of the rock genre and we’re still only at track 3. Here, the band offers a spirited pop rock number with a shot of country from Adra Boo’s duet contribution. 

Massy Ferguson colourful album cover

Next up is the earworm: “tell me I’m done when you find me in the rerun.” As before, there’s a 90s post-grunge earnestness to the vocal. 

Saying You Were There is tender in tone but there’s little overt sympathy despite watching a tragedy play out on TV: “the ambulance is network trucks/you should have known better pushing your luck/not going to read you your last rites/flashing TV lights.” It’s a powerful approach bolstered by a strong solo. However, awkward rhymes distract somewhat again: “spotlights and sirens dissipate/you were never willing to pay the freight,” for example.

Don’t Give Up On Your Friends is a largely positive reinforcement song despite the hook being “we all know they like you better than me.” The tempo and tune switch completely halfway to proclaim “time will make us very happy.”

Momma’s In The Backseat shows the band’s potential by stepping away from rhyming parts and instead trusting the narrative and the bass line. As the young protagonist and his friends get caught up in something more dangerous than they’d bargained for, there’s real pathos in the line: “I told her about the fight/but what I wanted to do was wrap myself in that old Star Wars blanket and go to sleep in my bed/but I didn’t say that at the time.”

Massy Ferguson
Photo Credit: Rich Zollner

Saddest Man has as much jangly guitar and pedal steel as the title would imply: “you hid into the covers for the day again/you remember how it feels when it breaks or bends/make it like it never happened to you.”

Wolf Man is the lament of the one left behind while a journey unfolds for the wanderer: “still flowers grow everywhere you go even if you don’t return here to me/big skies that you wanted.”

They Want That Sound is one last chance for a rich, full band free-for-all taking in prairie vistas, 50s imagery and a heavy dose of 90s modern rock vibrancy. Maybe they say it best themselves: “use it all to make something new because we’re running out of time.”

Overall, the record foregrounds some great playing and narrative expression, especially when the band steps away from strict rhyming schemes.

Black & white photo of Massy Ferguson
Photo Credit: Rich Zollner