Nick Ferrio never shies away from making art out of the personal.
A few weeks back, the peaceful, idyllic calm of the orchard on the other side of my street was pierced by growling machinery, grinding gears, and ground-shaking construction. Where once was a single house and an expanse of fruit trees and farmland will soon be eighty-two freestanding homes half the size of mine that will sell for twice what I paid.
Have a nice day, indeed.
While the impending expansion of my neighbourhood may not bring about the same strain and concern as the gentrification happening in Peterborough, ON, the home of singer-songwriter Nick Ferrio, there’s a number of common threads in our experiences. Ferrio’s latest full length, Have A Nice Day, features “I Don’t Know How Long”, a song that focuses on “the displacing and erasure that happens when a place is gentrified,” which Ferrio posits is a lingering extension of colonialism; a socio-economic cleansing that’s becoming endemic in Canada’s bigger cities. It’s an anxiety faced by many who find themselves caught in a vortex between not being able to afford their current living conditions and being unable to find anywhere affordable to live.
While there’s all manner of change being thrust upon him by the passing of time and socio-economic forces beyond his control, Ferrio is staunchly committed to keeping his shit together. “Deep down I knew it’d be okay / can’t stay the same” he sings to his partner as he contemplates their coming parenthood on “You’ve Changed: “I love you more and more each day / and I know how cheesy it sounds / but I’m the luckiest guy around / Can’t wait to try my hand / At being somebody’s dad / And it might be obvious and dumb / but you’re gonna make an amazing mum.”
As if that weren’t enough to keep him up at night, Ferrio finds himself reflecting on the value of art as a career. What’s charming and refreshing about a song like “How Will I Know” is that, while Ferrio’s right to question the legitimacy of art as economy, he’s eternally optimistic and hopeful about the power of music to withstand whatever becomes of the business model around it. It’s that same steadfast commitment to his craft that informs the punchy nostalgia of “Quit the Band” and anchors the second thematic thread of Have A Nice Day: Ferrio is now a dad, a responsible family man. He’s also a creative soul, a visionary thinker, and an earnest songwriter who never shies away from making profoundly moving art out of the personal.
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