Inside Out: The IMA Sessions

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Known as a women's music singer/songwriter, Ferron likes to throw her fans a curve now and then, such as on Resting with the Question, her album of New Age instrumentals. This time, she creates a covers album by revisiting the pop music she heard on the radio as a teenager in the 1960s and early '70s. Generally, the arrangements suggest the original hit recordings without slavishly copying them. The occasional exceptions comes with the rhythms. Ferron has chosen a number of syncopated songs and in several cases -- "Different Drum," "Save the Last Dance for Me," "Happy Together" -- gone ahead and adapted them to a reggae beat. The album's major twist, however, is that Ferron sings the lyrics as written, even when, as is often the case, she is taking on a romantic narrator who, in the original recording, was a man. Some of these songs were sung in their most popular versions by women, even if they were written by men ("Different Drum," sung by Linda Ronstadt as a member of the Stone Poneys, but written by Michael Nesmith; "[They Long to Be] Close to You," sung by Karen Carpenter of the Carpenters, but with lyrics by Hal David). But most were written to be sung by men to or about their heterosexual female partners. Here, Ferron's lesbian fans can delight as she sings, "She's in love with me" in the Beatles' "I Feel Fine," or "What she does to me when she makes love to me" in "Don't Worry Baby." And that's the point. Ferron herself no doubt would not claim that any of these performances improve on the classic recordings of these classic pop songs. But she does re-contextualize them for an audience that, like her, grew up listening to them on the radio and, then or later, heard them in a different way from the way most people did. Here, they are, as the title has it, turned "inside out."

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