Issy Ferris and Archie Sylvester are the two halves of the blues rock duo know musically as Ferris & Sylvester who have just released their latest single ‘Breadwinner’ as a further step towards their long awaited and eagerly anticipated debut album ‘Superhuman‘, which comes out on March 11th.
It seems an eternity since I first saw these guys play live at Cornbury 2018 and then at The Long Road Festival in that same year before seeing them smash The Forum in Tunbridge Wells, following in the footsteps of some hugely successful artists at that iconic venue, and seeing them just recently in Hastings at another iconic small venue, The Crypt, where they were taking part in an initiative to get people back into live music and small venues as the pandemic slowly releases us all from its grip. So, you can see I’m a real fan of these guys and to have watched them develop over the past years and to watch them slowly define the music they wanted to play and the sound they wanted to have has been not only a privilege but huge fun.
What started as a partnership that edged towards alt folk tinged rock has moved much more towards something much more bluesy which hugely suits the incredible vocal range of Issy Ferris who is an artist that flourishes live and who draws the listener into her raspy, emotional voice that is equally at comfort punching out something with rock, rage and raunch, like ‘I Dare You’ as it is bringing tears to your eyes with the beautiful ‘Flying Visit’, both of which will feature on the forthcoming album. To say that she has found her perfect foil in partner Archie Sylvester, who has a voice that seems perfectly adept at adding the background to Issy’s voice or in taking lead, would be an understatement. He has developed from a veritable one-man band with his guitar and kick drum to a blues guitarist of considerable style, who can still turn his heels to a kick drum if required, but who obviously now delights in giving his guitar and vocal skills their freedom.
The music of the duo has been honed and developed through a very deliberate filter of compromise and consensus to become something that they are both obviously happy with and, to that end, the long wait for the album will, I’m sure, mean that we will end up with something much closer to what they wanted to release than when they first stepped on a stage together.
This month has seen the release of ‘Breadwinner’ which features both of their vocals and could be the story of the making of their partnership. It hints at the pressures and difficulties that come with making music as a career, with making love and war with a partner. It talks of being a breadwinner but living off loans, it talks of throwing things away whilst it’s close harmonies confirm that this relationship is going strong. The intimacy of the lyrics gives us a further insight into what makes this duo a force to be reckoned with, the songs are immediately relatable and personal as are the protagonists.
Recorded in Cornwall, written in South London, Ferris and Sylvester say of the song:
“This song is a celebration of feeling lost. Of not knowing where you’re going or how to get what you want. Of working hard in your work life and your love life, and getting little reward. You imagined your life would be like an indie film, where boy meets girl and everyone lives in cool loft apartments. Instead, life is more like an unseen episode of Peep Show. The truth is everyone is in it together. There is an odd human comfort in that, and that deserves to be celebrated. That is what Breadwinner is for.”
The story of the album is the story of this duo. It is the story of a couple who have documented their journey in life through music brought to life in isolation as they switched South London for a countryside cottage, as they discovered life away from the touring, as they grew vegetables, knitted and hiked in the times they were not writing or recording.
The twelve track album, recorded in Seattle USA, with Ryan Hadlock, of Lumineers and Stroke fame, and in Cornwall with Michael Rendall, who has worked with Pink Floyd, is a record that will take the listener on a journey of self-discovery as a human and as a musician. I can’t recommend discovering this band for yourself highly enough; I’ve seen them live many times and never been disappointed. I can’t wait for the album!