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Shell Yeah! Benefit Concert ft. Sierra Ferrell

August 24, 2024

Overton Park Shell

One of the brightest young luminaries in roots music today, Sierra Ferrell brings a dose of beautifully strange magic to everything she touches. Since the arrival of Long Time Coming (her acclaimed debut LP for Rounder Records), the West Virginia-born singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist has earned the Emerging Act of the Year prize at the Americana Honors & Awards, collaborated with the likes of Margo Price and Old Crow Medicine Show, and enchanted audiences all over North America and Europe with her high-spirited and dazzling live performance. On her new album Trail Of Flowers, the Nashville-based artist expands her sound while deepening the urgency of her songs, often revealing a wealth of wisdom within her wildly imaginative storytelling.

Her first full-length since Long Time Coming—a 2021 release that drew praise from outlets like Pitchfork, Paste, Pop Matters, and No Depression—Trail Of Flowers came to life with producers Eddie Spear (Zach Bryan, Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton) and Gary Paczosa (Alison Krauss, Dwight Yoakam, Gillian Welch) and with such esteemed musicians as Chris Scruggs. In keeping with a musical upbringing that included playing everywhere from truck stops to boxcars to New Orleans street corners, the album journeys from freewheeling bluegrass to heartrending old-time music to fantastically gritty honky-tonk and beyond, endlessly changing shape to accommodate the immense scope of Ferrell’s eccentric musicality. Mainly recorded at Sound Emporium Studios and featuring guest appearances from singer/songwriters Lukas Nelson and Nikki Lane, Trail Of Flowers ultimately fulfills her longstanding mission of making music that transcends all barriers of time. “I wanted to create something that makes people feel nostalgic for the past, but excited about the future of music,” Ferrell points out.

Instantly proving her extraordinary capacity to merge timeless musicianship with lyrics exploring modern concerns, Trail Of Flowers opens on “American Dreaming”: a world-weary yet soul-stirring track that speaks to the struggle to build a good life in a culture consumed by capitalism. Another song informed by her singular outlook on the modern world, “Fox Hunt” takes the form of a furiously stomping epic driven by galloping rhythms and some feverish fiddle work from Ferrell. On “Rosemary,” she delves further into her old-time roots and delivers the album’s most haunting moment: a stark but spellbinding story-song graced with a few bars of soulful yodeling. A profoundly gifted vocalist, Ferrell often captures an entire world of feeling in just a single line, particularly on tracks like “Dollar Bill Bar”—a swinging but wistful number on which she cycles from longing to regret to devil-may-care attitude with impossible ease. And on “I Could Drive You Crazy,” Ferrell serves up one of the most joyful moments on Trail Of Flowers, sharing a harmony-fueled and singalong-ready love song that’s both self-effacing and gloriously fun.

In selecting a title for her latest body of work, Ferrell chose to reference her deep love of flowers and affinity for surrounding herself with gorgeously colorful blossoms—a perfect reflection of her wondrous inner world. As a listening experience, Trail Of Flowers provides a similar sensation of all-enveloping and off-kilter beauty—one that Ferrell hopes might lift others into a more charmed state of mind. “I’m just trying to put words and melodies together and build it into something people can pour their feelings too, all their happiness and sorrows, so that it changes their reality a little bit and gives them some comfort,” she says. “To me music is like medicine. And whenever I write a song and it feels healing to me, I know it can heal other people too.”