What do you call a Canadian-born lesbian folksinger who writes about classic country & western concerns like
lovin'-and-ramblin' and who plays with a tight rock band? Culture hero, I'd say.
Shadow on a Dime, Ferron's fourth album, is a feast of excellent musicianship and fine songwriting. Her crack-voiced singing is friendly and conversational, which makes her idiosyncratic, poetic lyrics something of a surprise: cowgirl meets
Ferron writes of love with the relentless introspection of Leonard Cohen, and, as with classic Bob Dylan, her songs' tough, questioning attitude sometimes gives way to an unexpected sweetness. Like both Cohen and Dylan, however, Ferron is more inventive verbally than musically; the melodies tend to be circular, if not repetitive. But the songs are so full of emotional incidents that you wind up living with them awhile and, eventually, learning them by heart.
Ferron sees both sides of relationships; she can laugh at them because she takes them dead seriously.
"Snowin' in Brooklyn" is a good example. Though the singer is ostensibly reassuring an
exlover, the song is really a sly bid to get her back. The album's
many moods are superbly reflected in Terry Garthwaite's production, and ideal instrumental touches keep the more contemplative songs from sounding drab (the flute on " I Never Was to Africa," the moody violin on the title tune). Besides charting Ferron's growth as a songwriter of substance, Shadows on a Dime is a thing of beauty.
Rolling Stone, June 7, 1984