You never know where you'll find Ferraby Lionheart, either geographically or in song.
The L.A.-born, Nashville-reared singer-songwriter spent much of last decade in Los Angeles, eventually sequestering himself in a Koreatown apartment to write his debut album Catch the Brass Ring (Nettwerk, 2007). But L.A. had run its course, and the man born Ferraby Lizarraga moved on, spending time in Sweden, vacationing in Ecuador and finally settling back in Nashville to work on the follow-up.
"I don't tour a lot," he says, "but I don't like to stay in one place either."
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How those travels sharpened the folk singer's senses is apparent on his new album The Jack of Hearts. While Brass Ring was largely a personal mediation, his sophomore effort (out tomorrow via Thirty Tigers) represents observational songwriting at its sharpest, with Lionheart's guitar and piano ballads revealing characters as their most vulnerable and tender.
It's pretty powerful stuff, especially "Harry and Bess," a song inspired by a Harry Houdini poster on a studio wall and a legend Lionheart read about how Houdini's wife might have passed the escape artist a key to some difficult handcuffs via a kiss.
Lionheart, with a backing band that includes Ben Reddell and Travis Popichak (of Leslie Stevens & the Badgers) as well as Zack Moscow, celebrates the release of his new album with a show tonight at the Bootleg Theater, with Nicole Simone and the Romany Rye opening.
Elsewhere: Veteran singer-songwriter Tim Finn (Split Enz/Crowded House) comes through for a solo date at the Troubadour. ... Ragsy plays the Hotel Cafe. ... Three free residencies kick off at Silver Lake/Echo Park clubs -- White Arrows at Spaceland (with Kenan Bell and the Franks supporting tonight), Fol Chen at the Echo (with Obi Best) and Twilight Sleep at the Silverlake Lounge. ... And there's See Green and Iron Toms at the Viper Room, and Allison Gray at the Mint.