Missouri-native Tyler Farr appeared to land on the Country music scene from out of nowhere towards the end of 2013, and proceed to take it by storm with his platinum-selling hit ‘Redneck Crazy‘. In fact by that time he had already co-written songs for the likes of Joe Nichols & Colt Ford, he had also had two earlier single releases stall alarmingly short of the Top 40. However, with the huge success of the titular cut from his début album ‘Redneck Crazy’ and subsequent single ‘Whiskey In My Water’ going gold, things changed rapidly for Farr. With the controversial whirlwind of bro-Country sweeping Nashville at the time, for some Farr and his music were both consigned to that sub-genre and his musical merit dismissed. Tracks such as ‘Hello Goodbye’ or ‘Cowgirl’ suggested that had the potential to be a hasty decision. Last week saw the release of Farr’s sophomore album ‘Suffer In Peace’, on which he presents a compelling argument to have his relevance to modern Country music seriously re-assessed.
Storming opening track ‘C.O.U.N.T.R.Y’ may feature a few too many trite down-home lyrical references, but with it’s driving percussion, dirty-sounding banjo and big vocals it gets by on sheer enthusiasm (and must be a killer track performed live!). Lead single from the album, ‘A Guy Walks Into A Bar‘, hinted at the ability Farr may well have to surprise the nay-sayers. Never judging a song by its’ title proves to be wise here, rather than a knockabout drinking song, this gold-certified hit is a mid-tempo ballad that packs a real punch. Opening with measured acoustic guitar chords, the gentle verse allows Farr to set up his tale of boy meets girl who eventually gets his heartbroken, in his instantly recognisable husky drawl. The chorus kicks in with swirling steel guitar, picking up the pace slightly to reflect the pieces hurriedly falling apart in the relationship described in a superb track.
There is no letting up on the angst with the electrifying power ballad ‘Withdrawals‘, which sees the singer comparing reluctantly weaning himself off of his ex-lover to that of forsaking other ‘harmful habits’, it is true that ‘they don’t have a rehab for heartbreak‘. The sheer desperation in Farr’s vocals throughout prove what a set of lungs the singer possesses, mixed in with a uniquely thrilling use of drums & electric guitar ‘Withdrawals’ is a show-stopper cut. Currently touring the US as part of Jason Aldean’s ‘Burn It Down’ tour, Farr is joined by Aldean for duet ‘Damn Good Friends’. The mid-paced chugger features the two singers pointing out that ‘you got a hundred buddies, but a couple of damn good friends‘ on a tune with far more charm than many may expect.
By the time you reach melancholy title cut ‘Suffer In Peace’ the realisation dawns that Farr has (in the main) recorded an album of good old-fashioned Country heartbreak. The tenderly-paced ballad describes the desire to simply disappear from the world to get over a failed relationship, performed over a stripped-back production boasting sumptuous steel guitar and a suitably downbeat performance from Farr. One of the finest efforts in the rising star’s fledgling career. Stirring ‘Raised To Pray’ looks destined to be a future single, a reminder not to judge a book by its cover metaphorically, served up in perfect radio-friendly style complete with rapid-fire lyrics in its verses.
The tension-filled ‘Criminal’ cleverly leads the listener to think the singer has been ‘done wrong’ when, in fact, the not-so nefarious act in question is ‘you kicked my door in & stole my heart away, took all of my lonely nights & ran off with my bad days‘. He may not have seen it coming but the mid-tempo ballad finds Farr in love, a rousing chorus finds that steel guitar well up in the mix again before a startling electric guitar solo. A rare moment of sheer fun is served up on the funky ‘Better In My Boots’, lyrically it slightly falls back on cliché but the summertime feel-good vibe proves to be infectious. You will be dancing along before you know it.
The love conquers circumstance sentiment of ‘Poor Boy’ adds appeal to the uptempo Country-rocker, but ultimately the track passes by without making any real impression. Much stronger fare is the drinking-ballad ‘I Don’t Even want This Beer’, in similar vein to much of the album the track is made relevant to current radio trends with heavy percussion and big guitars but, at its’ heart, is a real Country song. A truly well-written one at that, performed impeccably by one of its’ co-writers in Farr himself. Family life, patriotism & traditional values are celebrated again on rousing closing track ‘Why We Live Here’. Lush organ fills and plenty of steel guitar once again find Farr tipping his hat (ball-cap!) to the music he grew up on, whilst adding his own 2015 sound.
Tyler Farr’s debut album was reviewed on the forerunner to this site and fared well, with the release of ‘Suffer In Peace’ the singer has shown real growth possibly motivated by a desire to be taken seriously by both Country radio AND real Country fans. Those willing to dismiss the current lazy trend of immediately pigeon-holing artists will be hugely rewarded listening to these 11 new tracks. As previously mentioned, there is no denying his powerful, husky vocals make him stand out from the crowd and by marrying this with material mining subject matter deeper than many of his peers Tyler Farr has released an incredibly fine record. A Country record.