Farmer Not So John


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This second disc from this group is at once familiar and at the same time shows many new facets of this metamorphosing group. They have the feel of a Counting Crows-meets-Webb Wilder & the Beatnecks, playing with some outlaw country ideas. The country (they seem to hate that label) flavor comes from their harmonies and their use of instruments like the lap steel (to great effect), banjo, mandolin, and fiddle -- plus, on one cut, Peter Rowan contributes his distinctive mandola. This disc starts off with a familiar-sounding song, "Paperthin," then moves away from the familiar gradually, not taking any giant steps but more like expanding upon their sound. One of the main changes is the feel of this disc, which is decidedly more somber, ominous, and dark. Just listen to the wrenching and foreboding "Rise Above the Wreckage." Maybe the year on the road combined with the changes and acrimony that accrued have left a scar on this band (we'll see with time whether it is permanent). The band that tours will be different than the one that recorded this disc, and that will surely promote even more changes, but this disc was recorded with the original band and with the help of various friends. Another reason for the change in sound is that this disc is produced by Tucker Martine, who was obviously not afraid to use more effects. This is a group for whom the inner turmoil is working; they have taken the strife and used it to make an edgier-sounding disc.

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