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Amanda Kate Ferris – ‘Pedal Steel’ EP review

Texan native Amanda Kate Ferris’ new EP ‘Pedal Steel’ is a slick, passionate and beautifully produced piece of work. Ferris grew up listening to 90s icons like Wynonna Judd, Faith Hill, and Brooks & Dunn, but also loved pop powerhouses like Celine Dion and Christina Aguilera and you can hear that in her vocals.

The daughter of singer-songwriter Kathy Wright, Amanda grew up watching her mother perform. Kathy, an original member of the “Dean Martin Golddiggers,” starred on the crooner’s NBC television program “The Dean Martin Show” when she was 18. Kathy also traveled the globe singing with Bob Hope and his USO-sponsored Christmas shows and bestowed her love for music on her daughter.

Amanda’s mother brought her to a show when she was just one week old and put her in a bassinet on stage while she performed. At age two, Amanda joined her mom each night to sing. Soon Amanda began performing in church and singing original songs her mom wrote. By the time she was 14, Amanda was singing professionally. So you can see that music, Country music and the associated industry runs through Ferris’ blood like lettering through a stick of rock.

“I’m a traditional country artist,” Amanda says. “Nineties country was what I grew up listening to and I think there’s room for more traditional country. I’m hoping to bring something different, a little bit of a throwback, to what country was and what I remember growing up listening to with a new, modern flair.” says Amanda of her style and sound and you can hear that all over latest release ‘Pedal Steel’, I mean, it’s obvious really, when you consider the title!

The songwriting credits on ‘Pedal Steel’ are simply phenomenal and Ferris’ performance easily matches up to the incredibly high standards set by the writers of these songs. You can hear all the aforementioned Country greats on the EP but this is not some tribute act channeling the nostalgia of the past. You can also hear modern influences right up to artists like Carly Pearce and Lainey Wilson too.

‘Baby Don’t’ is a Love Junkies song – yep, you read that right, it was written by the formidable trio of Liz Rose, Lori McKenna and Hillary Lindsey. That should be enough to have you reaching for the Spotify app! It’s a classy song with a little bit of raunch to it as Ferris sings about the steamier side of things with a voice and a narrative that is refreshing to hear. These type of ‘don’t look at me that way unless you want me to do something about it’ songs are songs that we often hear men producing so it’s cool to hear that sentiment put forward from the female point of view. There’s a hint of Carly Pearce about proceedings here too as Ferris sings the hell out of the infectious chorus.

Lori McKenna’s writing talents also show up on ‘When I Think About You’. This is a tender, acoustic ballad about loss and heartbreak. With lyrics based around the relatable things that people miss about their loved ones, backed by tasteful, delicate guitars, ‘When I Think About You’ is one of the highlights of the EP. ‘From the fourth to New Year’s Eve…I see a ghost in every room,’ Ferris sings on this impactful song that has an air of early The Chicks to it in both the style of the song and the way Ferris delivers it.

If you like 90s Country with a modern edge then look no further than ‘Tequila and Jesus’. Co-written by Lainey Wilson you can hear Lainey’s influence coming through in the structure and cadence of the verses. A mid-tempo, fiddle driven song about the influence of both ‘King James, salt and lime,,’ ‘Tequila and Jesus’ contains some of Ferris’ best vocals on the EP on a song that should be everywhere across the FM radio airwaves over the coming year.

Perhaps the two best songs on ‘Pedal Steel’ are reserved for its big finish and are interconnected in their narratives about the industry and Country music. The title track, written by Autumn McEntire, Mae Estes and Paul Sikes, is a love letter to Country music and pedal steel guitars. ‘I sold my soul a long time ago,’ Ferris sings , making references to her mother and her upbringing around music. This track has big vocals, handled with a deft restraint that smacks of all the classic Country greats and some wonderful, plaintive, pedal steel too. It’s ‘the saddest sound I’ve ever heard…I love it forever and ever, amen,’ and who wouldn’t agree with Ferris on that sentiment?

‘In This Town,’ meanwhile, continues the meta narrative about singing Country songs about Country music. Written by the very talented Heather Morgan and Ross Copperman, ‘In This Town’ is a restrained, mature and classy tribute to Hank Williams, the Ryman and the way Country music used to be. ‘Hank, if you’re listening,’ Ferris asked at one point in the song, ‘I’m trying real hard not to let you down.’ Slick, polished and meaningful, ‘In This Town’ should be the song that is used as the poster child for this album. Given Nashville’s current lean back towards traditional music this is the song that should be pushed out front-and-centre as Ferris’ team try to carve out a name for her on Music Row.

‘Pedal Steel’ is a classy, slick and impactful EP with a whole bunch of heart and soul to it too. Across these five songs, Ferris paints a wonderful picture of how to blend Texas, Nashville, the 90s and modern sounding Country values into a set of songs that leave you wanting more. There is a class to ‘Pedal Steel’ that is not often found in artists at Ferris’ stage of her career. Think of a young Trisha Yearwood and you’d be somewhere in the ball park. As artists like Cody Johnson, Randall King, Drake Milligan and Parker McCollum put Texas back in the mainstream’s consciousness we can only hope that some of that attention comes Amanda Kate Ferris’ way because she deserves just as many accolades as those dudes do for her brand of mature, thoughtful and infectious traditional-leaning Country.

Amanda Kate Ferris
Credit: Rockin R Records

Track list: Baby Don’t 2. Tequila and Jesus 3. When I Think About You 4. Pedal Steel 5. In This Town Record Label: Rockin R Records Release Date: March 10th Buy ‘Pedal Steel’ now

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Texan native Amanda Kate Ferris' new EP 'Pedal Steel' is a slick, passionate and beautifully produced piece of work. Ferris grew up listening to 90s icons like Wynonna Judd, Faith Hill, and Brooks & Dunn, but also loved pop powerhouses like Celine Dion and...Amanda Kate Ferris - 'Pedal Steel' EP review