In the Valley of the Purple Prince
At first pass, Iceberg Ferg’s fourth release reads like a 21st century side of Nitty Gritty’s Will The Circle Be Unbroken, but In the Valley of the Purple Prince manages to deliver some welcome deviations from the folk and bluegrass schools of music; a genre-bending wolf in sheep’s clothing. Deftly plucked instrumental tracks intersperse a collection of originals and classics (a cover of Johnnie & Jack’s “Ashes of Love” shines with a band-wide 1940’s radio-worthy harmonic slide to the opening chord). A record of self-indulgent jams this is not; each track stays relatively short, some sweeter than others. Fergus MacConnell’s vocals pull different hues track to track (at times, Fleet Foxes, at others, unfortunately, Jim Henson), yet his wavering tone manages to ring sincere for much of the record. “Here, Now” boasts the most vocal production seen throughout, while “Lucky Still” imparts melancholy for a time you likely never saw. Though MacConnell seems to be in vocal flux, In the Valley of the Purple Prince is refreshing in its ability to exercise restraint in production, while waxing modern on folk conventions. Take off your shoes, sit awhile. Let Iceberg Ferg rock you back and forth in time.
– Renn Madeleine