Times Pop Music Critic

Ferron, a Canadian singer-songwriter who headlined her first local "major" concert Friday night at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, has a press kit filled with reviews that compare her to everyone from Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen to Joni Mitchell.

The problem with such lavish advance word is that it tempts critics to comment on Ferron's reviewers rather than on the folk-oriented artist herself. Consider the Boston Globe quote (reprinted in Friday's souvenir program) that predicts "someday they'll be saying Dylan was the Ferron of the 1960s."

Wanna bet?

To her credit, Ferron exhibited a warm, unpretentious manner that suggested she doesn't take the exaggerated praise seriously. Her wide-ranging style incorporates both the country simplicity of early Gordon Lightfoot and the mystical, poetic slant of Van Morrison, while her themes move from intimate love songs to sweeping social anthems. The material is strong enough to make Ferron the most substantial writer to emerge so far from the feminist-centered "women's music" movement. On a wider scale, however, she is a capable, lyric-conscious writer who comes up occasionally with a stirring song but doesn't offer the radical or consistently arresting vision of our most commanding pop-rock figures.

Backed most of the evening by just her acoustic guitar, Ferron, whose adventurous vocal style compensates for the absence of melodic invention in her music, was joined on a few numbers by "Novi" Novog, who contributed striking synthesizer and electric viola touches. The concert was opened by WIMS, a women's improvisational theater group.

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