Long Time Coming is an apt title for an album from a singer whose vocals sound like they were recorded 60 to 80 years ago and transposed over high-fidelity modern music played in an old-timey way.
Sierra Ferrell’s major-label debut culls all the best country music has to offer and eschews all its weaknesses across 12 tracks and 40 minutes of music that emanates equally from the holler – her voice and “West Virginia Waltz” – Music City (“Give it Time”), the Bluegrass State (“Bells of Every Chapel”), Tijuana (“Far Away Across the Sea”) and the Big Easy (“At the End of the Rainbow”).
Ferrell wrote or co-wrote every track and gets support from Billy Strings, who plays like Tony Rice on “Bells;” Jerry Douglas on Dobro and other stringed instruments; Tim O’Brien on vocals; Sarah Jarosz on banjo, mandolin and vocals; and a slew of other compatriots including steel guitar, violin, trumpet and clarinet players.
The result is a staggering variety of musical styles all tied together by Farrell’s powerful twang that’s instilled with the DNA of Loretta Lynn, Kitty Wells and Patsy Cline but is uniquely her own as it springboards toward impossibly high vibratos. When you hear Farrell sing once, you’ll be able to identify her instantly forevermore.
The only misstep comes in the inclusion of the 2020 single “Jeremiah,” which is too similar to “In Dreams” to merit its presence. The latter’s existential lyrics make it the superior choice as Ferrell sings:
But that river will flow on/even after we’re all long gone/that river will flow on/take me with you now before I’m one
It’s a minor quibble and easily forgotten when one realizes too much is always preferable to not enough. And Long Time Coming suggests too much Ferrell is impossible.