Mikey Ferrari Breaks Down His Walls with ‘Stories from Montana’ [EP Review]

Sophia Clemente

If you share even a bit of my affinity for the up-and-coming folk-pop sphere, you’ve probably noticed it's been a busy year for singer-songwriter Mikey Ferrari. Towards the end of 2022, he made his return to his own artist project, has continued his work as a world-class writer, and supported Sam MacPherson on a national tour. All this came to a head on May 19th with the release of his striking EP Stories from Montana, which also happened to be the final date of the aforementioned tour, playing to the sold-out Troubadour crowd in Los Angeles. The six-song project strips down any barriers separating the listener from Ferrari and allows them into a deeply emotional poignant window of time.

To call Stories from Montana a vulnerable and exposed project is a flagrant understatement. Posed as a body of work dedicated to the place in which Ferrari spent many of his formative years, the EP details how the problems that fall upon us in our hometowns don’t just vanish if one makes it out, and can sometimes even be heightened, which Ferrari highlights when reflecting on his move to Los Angeles. Ferrari candidly and powerfully shares his story with prescription drug abuse in lead single and opening track “Oxycontin.” The anguish in Ferrari’s voice is palpable as he croons over his past issues with addiction and its effects on his loved ones. In “Am I even living anymore” and “On The Day I Leave,” Ferrari contends with the undeniably prevalent human experiences of devastation, hopelessness, and general discontent. “Wedding Bells” stresses Ferrari’s intricate story-telling abilities and recounts the story of seeing someone who was exceptionally influential in one’s life move on without you and following suit, “Crash Course” tackles a similar issue of outgrowing and losing touch with people that are meant to remain in your past and includes counter-melodies that bring liveliness to a solemn subject. The real gem of this project lies in its closing song, which serves as the pseudo title track, “Montana.” Its introspective lyrics wrestle openly with how growing out of the shell one grew up in can become the root of pain and confusion as one matures. “Sweet Montana don’t you cry / The boy you built is still alive” he sings in the bridge, reminiscing on how the place that he spent his developmental years in is still visible within him.

Ferrari has such a particular and thoughtful manner of songwriting and in this project has held nothing back in his raw depiction of how the burdens we carry from our past can have a lasting impact on the way we live our lives. Very acoustically driven, Ferrari’s raspy vocals and vivid writing are grounded by robust guitar chords and classic, folky drums. Releasing an EP with a majority of songs released as singles can be a gutsy move, but proved to be more than successful for Ferrari. As someone who’s followed him as these singles came out, listening to the project front to back felt like an entirely distinct experience. While the typical listener may not relate to each particular story, Ferrari manages to make himself into a shoulder to cry on and authored a project that will have something to resonate with anyone.

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