By Maxim Mower
Photography by Kendall Wilson
Sierra Ferrell delivered a spell-binding performance on the Interstate Stage on the final day of The Long Road Festival 2023.
During her Sunday evening set, which featured a blend of electrifying covers and original fan-favourites, Ferrell treated UK fans to a special rendition of an unreleased track. The alt-country maverick described the dramatic, stormy song as her “ode to hunting”, with the offering seemingly being titled either ‘Fox Hunt’ or ‘The Hunter’.
Excitingly, Sierra Ferrell revealed to the packed-out crowd that she'd be dropping the new single in the next month or so. Ferrell has been regularly including the track in her setlist over the past year, with the sense of anticipation already soaring ahead of the release.
In addition to the new track, Ferrell's set featured an array of highlights from the West Virginia native's acclaimed 2021 album, Long Time Coming. The Interstate crowd welcomed the inclusion of ‘In Dreams’ from the moment the distinctive riff emanated from Ferrell's guitar.
The magic of Sierra Ferrell lies in her ability to generate an ethereal, other-worldly ambience throughout her set, while still remaining entirely accessible and relatable. This was epitomised when Sierra and her trio of instrumentalists faced some difficulties with their in-ears, with the singer-songwriter sharing with the crowd that there were some strange frequencies being transmitted, before joking, “Grandpa?”
Her joyously eclectic setlist was difficult to concretely situate in terms of genre and style, but Ferrell's elusiveness and enigmatic quality made it all the more satisfying to witness.
The choice to play Hank Williams’ ‘Hey, Good Lookin’’ over the Interstate stage speakers before emerging onto the stage felt like a pointed message to attendees, underlining that Ferrell was about to transport them to another time and era altogether.
Ferrell and her musicians moved together in harmony, acting as the four chambers at the centre of the performance, expanding the sound and drawing it in again as one unified, beating heart. The mandolin, violin and bass combined beautifully with Ferrell's serene, graceful vocals, which often felt reminiscent of Patsy Cline's distinctive range.
Americana provided much of the creative impetus behind enchanting tracks such as ‘Bells Of Every Chapel’, ‘Silver Dollar’ and ‘West Virginia Waltz’, but there are also bluegrass, traditional country and Roots influences woven into the fascinating fabric of Sierra Ferrell's sound.
The unreleased ‘Making My Way’ - which Sierra Ferrell performed during her recent Holler Live Session - captures the warmth of 1950s country ballads, while ‘Far Away Across The Sea’ takes attendees on a vibrant, mariachi-fuelled romp through the backstreets of Mexico.
Above all, as she strides off the Interstate stage, Sierra Ferrell leaves you with an overwhelming reassurance that, despite the variegation and multitude of stylistic colours incorporated into her palette, she's perfectly content to remain in her own lane.
Sierra Ferrell leaves the crowd with the uplifting cri-de-coeur that she's stuck unwaveringly to in recent months, particularly when being forced to cancel a series of shows in order to prioritise her mental health, “Thank you for being with us through all the ups and downs. Take care of yourself, and take care of each other”.
Sierra Ferrell - Setlist
Taken from her set at The Long Road Festival in Leicestershire, UK on Sunday, August 27th 2023:
For more on The Long Road Festival 2023, see below: