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Ferris and Sylvester: 'Otherness' Album Review

Photo available via Flickr (Under License Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))

Taking inspiration from multiple genres including blues, folk, soul, indie-rock and music from the 60’s and 70’s, the Americana fusion duo Ferris and Sylvester, have recently released their second album, Otherness. 

The members of the band, Issy Ferris and Archie Sylvester, are both the vocalists and are skilled in different instruments; Archie being the guitarist and Issy dabbling in bass, guitar and the flute. Having met in Camden’s blues bar: Spiritual Records, they have reached several milestones together; not only getting married and having their first child, but also reaching their musical milestones together. 

The duo have been releasing music since 2017, coming onto the scene with their folksy single ‘(I Think That You Look) Better in Yellow’ and since releasing more rocky tunes like ‘Sickness,’ which features on their debut album: Superhuman. This album became a turning point for them; getting them recognised by Rolling Stone magazine who named them as ‘Americana Artists to Watch,’ and also caused them to be named ‘UK Album of the Year’ in the UK Americana Awards 2023. 

Their second album, Otherness, has fourteen songs which are divided into three sides: ‘Side A- Storm,’ ‘Side B- Flood’ and ‘Side C- Hope.’ 

This divide is not only included in vinyl form, but also when you view their album on streaming platforms like Spotify. This fusion of a 60’s and 70’s approach to music and a modern approach is also reflected in the way the album was recorded. The duo used a 1960’s tape recorder to record some parts of the album, whilst also mixing it with modern technology, creating a distortion which aptly reflects the name of the album. 

Otherness is a multifaceted album with a range of songs. It includes upbeat, blues rock songs like ‘Rain’ and ‘Dark Side’ with soulful, distorted guitar solos and hopeful lyrics about the need to embrace change and let go more often, despite it being overwhelming. The album even experiments with funk and jazz elements in their song, ‘The Performer,’ which includes a catchy piano solo. 

These songs feature alongside slower songs with raw, heart-felt lyrics like ‘Headache’ which is the breakdown of a relationship and when love is overpowered, becoming hard-work: “You’re making such a mess, babe / this don’t feel like love to me.”

This album has beautiful harmonies throughout, Archie and Issy’s distinct vocals complement each other and creates a unique sound. Otherness definitely showcases Issy’s vocal range; some songs use her husky, powerful vocals whilst others use softer, melodious vocals. Their last song ‘Love is Real’ exemplifies both sides of her voice, the song starting with her soft and haunting vocals and ending with her louder, more powerful vocals that have a sound of desperation, reflecting the songs lyrics: “If love is real, then why can’t I feel anything?”

Ferris and Sylvester celebrated the release of Otherness with a show at Lafayette in London on the 1st March 2024, accompanied on stage with a drummer, a keyboardist, and even an orchestra for some songs. They are currently on tour, playing multiple shows around the UK and Ireland.

Edited by Lucy Blackmur, Music Editor


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