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Pop Music Review : Ferron Shines as ‘Women’s Music’ Muse

Ferron has long been a misty figure in what’s known as “women’s music,” operating far from the center even of that subculture. Now that the once-isolated pop-folk genre is moving closer to the mainstream in the hands of such acts as the Indigo Girls, Ferron is receiving her due as a primary inspiration.

She’s also receiving wider exposure. A major label, Warner Bros., recently released her album “Phantom Center,” and in a rare Southland appearance at the Troubadour on Thursday the Canadian singer-songwriter came into clear focus as an engaging performer and an artist of range and intelligence.

The slightly dry, husky quality of Ferron’s voice gives authority to her literary explorations of life’s essential matters--fear, trust, commitment, separation, ecstasy, wonder--and she has a way of twisting her dramatic delivery to suggest submerged layers of meaning.

Her music goes from the Kristofferson-like folk of “Girl on a Road” to the ambitious art-pop of “Sunken City,” and her five-member band traversed the territory with both dramatic power and subtle finesse.

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Ferron’s image over the years has been that of a reserved, even severe woman, but on stage she tempered her innate dignity with a playfulness and an unself-conscious physical looseness. She offered self-deprecating jabs at her persona as the wise matriarch, her wit blending with and reinforcing her seriousness of purpose.


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