Sierra Ferrell has one of those timeless voices that could be at home in any era of Americana music from the past hundred-some years.
The 34-year-old talent released her debut album, Long Time Coming, in 2021. Like its title suggests, the record was a culmination of years of busking, lengthy touring stints and years spent honing her songwriting. Ferrell left her rural West Virginia home in her early 20s and traveled the country with fellow nomadic musicians until she finally ended up in Nashville.
It didn't take Ferrell long to get noticed in Music City. Her spellbinding voice and triumphant live shows earned her a record deal with Rounder Records, leading to the creation of Long Time Coming.
The eclectic LP mixes elements of jazz, folk, Americana, and calypso, creating a gripping backdrop for Ferrell's captivating vocals.
Since the release of Long Time Coming, Ferrell has released a handful of singles, plus alternate takes of her existing songs. Recently, she announced the dates for her spring 2023 headlining tour, which will kick off in St. Louis, Mo., this March and stop at venues across the U.S.
As we await more new music from this burgeoning singer-songwriter, let's take a look back at 10 of the best Sierra Ferrell songs so far:
"Whispering Waltz"From: 'Long Time Coming' (2021)
Ferrell co-wrote "Whispering Waltz" with singer-songwriter Oliver Bates Craven. Together, they crafted one of the most heart-wrenching songs on Long Time Coming. In the lonesome tune, Ferrell tells of learning about a lover's infidelity. While the betrayal is palatable, the most painful thing about the song is the sense of resignation as she sings, "And this song remains true / It will always be of you / And your secret now forever we will hold."
"Jeremiah"from 'Long Time Coming' (2021)
On "Jeremiah," Ferrell urges a straying lover to remember the promises he made and stay true to her. It's a folk-inspired tune, with plenty of banjo picking and fiddle playing set alongside Ferrell's pleading voice.
"West Virginia Waltz"From: 'Long Time Coming' (2021)
Ferrell's "West Virginia Waltz" is wonderfully anachronistic: The song's lyrics and musical arrangement -- paired with Ferrell's timeless voice -- could fool any listener into believing it was not a modern release, even though the song came out in 2021. It's a beautiful example of Ferrell's more traditional sensibilities.
"Give It Time" (Alternative Version)From: 'Give It Time (Alternative Version)' (2022)
"Give It Time" was one of multiple Long Time Coming tracks Ferrell re-recorded and released over the past year. While both versions of the song are must-listens, the "Alternative Version" is noteworthy for its stripped-down instrumentation that shows off Ferrell's natural talent.
"Silver Dollar" (Alternative Version)From: 'Silver Dollar (Alternative Version' (2022)
On "Silver Dollar," Ferrell sings, "I don't want your silver dollar, no / I don't want your wedding ring / All that I want is a place to surrender / All of the love I have inside of me." While the first recorded version of the song is an up-tempo, fiddle-heavy tune, the "Alternative Version" features deft fingerpicking and has a rambling, yearning quality that makes Ferrell's desire to surrender even more palpable.
"Hey Me, Hey Mama"From: 'Hey Me, Hey Mama' (2022)
Ferrell's cover of Ray Lamontagne's "Hey Me, Hey Mama" is downright infectious, begging to be put on repeat all day. While Ferrell's influences are diverse and many, she can lean wholly into folk with the very best of them.
"Years"From: 'Something Borrowed, Something New: A Tribute to John Anderson' (2022)
This year, Dan Auerbach and David Ferguson produced a tribute album in honor of country music legend John Anderson, rounding up some of the most celebrated musicians in the genre. Ferrell took on Anderson's 2020 track, "Years." Her vocals are spellbinding, and the song's rhythm is hypnotic -- fitting for a song that opens with the line, "Years, everybody knows you gotta let 'em go / And they kinda roll by like tears."
"Bells of Every Chapel" (Feat. Billy Strings)From: 'Long Time Coming' (2021)
For the bluegrass track "Bells of Every Chapel," Ferrell teamed up with Billy Strings, whose hypnotic guitar backs her fully-in-command vocals. The song is a stand-out cut from Long Time Coming and leaves us hoping these two will team up for more collaborations in the future.
"Ready or Not" (Feat. Shakey Graves)From: 'Ready or Not' (2022)
Released earlier this year, this collaboration with Shakey Graves finds Ferrell experimenting with a new sound more adjacent to indie rock than her signature, traditional Americana sound. "Ready or Not" is incredibly fun and has become one of Ferrell's most highly streamed songs within just a few months.
"In Dreams"From: 'Long Time Coming' (2021)
Long Time Coming is a no-skips album, which makes declaring "In Dreams" its best track an even higher compliment. The lyrics are simple, peppered with declarations of love like "I hope I'm in your dreams / The way you are in all of mine." However, the always-changing intonations in Ferrell's voice make each word seem like a mystery to be unraveled.