The record starts of with Car Crash which slowly builds up. Zilm’s grungy vocals give the song pair well with the almost industrial sound of the song. When the song comes to full bloom it’s sonic and edgy and sets a strong tone for what’s to come. Fall Away’s sound lies somewhere between Better Than Ezra, Dishwalla and Third Eye Blind. Near the end it has an instrumental break that is very reminiscent of the late 90s and this practice really does need to make a comeback in popular music.
I’m not quite sure what Back In Two reminds me off but I swear I heard something similar before. Regardless, it sticks in your head quite well and all the awkward kids are moving on this, just like we used to back in the day. Groovy as hell.
The Goo Goo Dolls-esque intro to If It’s You is a bit of a misdirect because it develops into a song that is somewhere in between Carbon Leaf and Nada Surf but more toned down. It occupies the same empty space between mainstream and alternative by maintaining that edginess. Lead single Undertow is a more mellow track that relies much on Zilm’s vocal delivery. There is a sort of purposeful awkwardness in the vocals that provides additional depth to the song and brings the words out to the foreground.
When listening to On Your Way there is an unmistakable influence from Lifehouse’s Stanley Climbfall-era. The post-grunge nature, the anthem build-up and even the passionate “you’re on your way” sounds reminiscent of Lifehouse’s Take Me Away. The similarity in sound could be a good thing for Zilm as it may help him reach audiences of similar artists and bands. Having been a Lifehouse fan for years, that audience would be a good way to start. And based on what I’ve heard so far, there should be a good amount of interested listeners waiting for him there.
Somewhere To Fall Apart is probably my least favorite song on the record. It’s solid but I’m constantly waiting for the song to go somewhere and it never really does. The folky I Will Be Home is a bit of an odd duck on this record but it also provides a nice breaking point in the middle of the album. It shows versatility and actually gives Zilm a chance to showcase his vocals which fit this style remarkably well. If there’d ever be a folk-grunge genre, Zilm should immediately sign up, because he’d be born for it. I Will Be Home is a sincerely performed breath of fresh air on “Ferdinand”.
Walls is another excellent track that has more depth in its arrangement. Whether or not it was intentional, the slight hesitation in Zilm’s vocals as he starts certain phrasings works magically.
We then reach Last Day Of My Life which is probably the strongest track on the record. The balance between alternative edge and melodic appeal is perfect and reminds me of Seven Mary Three’s heyday. It’s the track I keep coming back to as the vocals are intriguing, the arrangement is subtle and the melody is very pleasant.
The final two tracks close out this debut record in proper fashion. Perfect Dream is a little quirkier than the previous songs but it’s a nice little tune. Breaking Point is pleading song that reflects on personal flaws and the trials of love, which we can all relate to.
Brian Zilm may not be a finished product yet but with “Ferdinand” he takes us back to the age of post-grunge and alternative pop/rock of the late 90s and early 2000s. “Ferdinand” is a solid and cohesive album that can stand testament to a promising start of a career for a musician that doesn’t compromise and stays true to himself and his influences. Well done, Brian Zilm!