Sierra Ferrell gives Nashville country music a twist with her eclectic albumTWITTER/ SIERRAFERRELL

Despite seemingly emerging from complete anonymity into the light with the recent release of debut album Long Time Coming, Sierra Ferrell had already firmly established herself in the category of underground artists to watch in the US alt-country scene before the start of 2020. Her YouTube channel might boast fewer than 30k subscribers, but the handful of original tracks and diverse assortment of live covers sporadically uploaded there over the last few years have grown her a fiercely loyal following and recognition from musicians and tastemakers. The story goes that she was signed to Rounder Records for a three-album deal solely due to the strength of her live shows, and as a sign of the respect she already commands in Nashville circles, this album is co-produced by none other than ten-time Grammy winner Gary Paczosa, whose credits can be found on albums by Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt, among others.

Long Time Coming is the culmination of many years spent honing her craft”

The label of debut album, then, is nothing more than a label for Sierra Ferrell. She may have never released a full-length LP, but in her twenties she began to make her living busking up and down the country, drifting nomadically between Seattle and New Orleans, and has absorbed countless influences from each and every place she has set foot in along the way. Despite being only her first record, Long Time Coming is the culmination of many years spent honing her craft, and as such, this is a fully-fledged and exceptionally capable display of her strengths.

The musical saw gets a starring role in music video for "The Sea"YOUTUBE/ SIERRAFERRELL

To attempt to pigeonhole Sierra Ferrell would be an impossible task. Easily dancing back and forth across the lines dividing jazz, country, and bluegrass, she never rests, lending this record an old-time charm which never once grows tiresome. Featuring the bizarre combination of both a musical saw and toy piano, album opener “The Sea” – an eerie ode to, well, the sea – is a clear standout, and the perfect introduction to this wholly uncategorizable record. The previously released “Why’d Ya Do It” is a calypso and tango-inspired song which makes use of the accordion and electric guitar, and elsewhere, the band doesn’t hesitate to slip into waltz time, bluesy folk or gypsy jazz.

“Sierra Ferrell shines brightest when she leans furthest into her own distinctive brand of jazz-inflected bluegrass”

Regardless of its eclectic nature, though, this album’s roots are still undoubtedly set in steel guitar- and fiddle-laden country music. Indeed, it seems that Sierra Ferrell shines brightest when she leans furthest into her own distinctive brand of jazz-inflected bluegrass, which she does with joy throughout. Even without glancing at the credits, it’s clear from a single listen that her band is overflowing with well-known talent, and their expertise oozes from every minor detail of each track – love song “Bells of Every Chapel” features award-winning bluegrass picker Billy Strings himself, just to hammer that point home.

Sierra Ferrell is renowned for her live performanceTWITTER/ SIERRAFERRELL


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Older fans who feared that the earthy, unpolished qualities her music exudes when played live would be lost in translation here need not worry: each track is arranged beautifully, while never losing sight of the spirited character at the heart of the music. “That was good, I like that one,” she laughs at the end of the third song, just as she might on stage. It’s noteworthy that the artists who most resemble Sierra Ferrell sonically originate from different ends of the planet to her – if jazzy French chanteuse Zaz were Charleston born and bred, there’s little doubt that this is the record she would have made. As such, Long Time Coming will easily be the only album of its type emerging from the music city of Nashville this year.

Ultimately, though, this intriguing set of songs is held together not by Sierra Ferrell’s supporting musicians or her penchant for variety, but by her natural musicality and versatile voice, and this record will surely be found on multiple best-of lists at the end of the year, whilst permanently embedding her name in the minds of listeners around the world.