Joe Farren – Open Skies

by Heather Savage / edited by Janne Zawa

joe-farren_open-skiesHis critically-celebrated debut album,‘Til the Day was released in 2007 and led to an extensive East-Coast tour, spins on national radio stations and a spot as a headliner on the Maine Songwriter’s Association’s annual Old Port Festival. Farren moved to Florida in 2011 and writes fresh material while maintaining a rigorous live performance schedule at venues up and down the East Coast. His latest release, Open Skies was recorded in collaboration with Nashville-based producer Jason Roller (Kelly Pickler, Winona Judd). Renowned bass player Lance Hoppen (Orleans) performs on the album along with a slew of talented Nashville studio players. Open Skies is a musical book of character-driven short stories that range from serious and sweet, to humorous and wild. Open Skies & ‘Til The Day are available on iTunes and through the artist’s website.

Open Skies is Farren’s latest release and has much to commend it. Admittedly, there is a whole lot of variety to these arrangements and performances. First: Farren and his impressive band delivers rock solid playing like a well oiled machine. This is testament to hundreds of hours of rehearsal time no doubt. Second: farren himself possesses a look and voice and an impassioned writing style that hits the mark remarkably well within the country-pop music arena. He has the attributes required of an effective singer/songwriter. Third: his sound and amazing songwriting touch are as good as it gets within modern folk-pop. All songs are a skillful combination of country pop rock yet with a slight Folk-Alternative Rock aftertaste that reminded me of Shayne Ward, Joe Ely, John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker and even Buddy Miller to John Mayer.

Farren has all the creativity and songwriting prowess to be extremely dangerous. What am I trying to say – well let me start by saying there is nothing fake and superficial about Joe Farren and his music. It’s nice to know some artists still take their soul into the studio with them rather then leave it at the door. Not every square inch is filled with musical ambience delivered under duress – but musical space this allows the music to breathe on its own with passion that cannot be faked. Equally as impressive is how marketable this catalogue truly is. It covers so much ground and despite this manages not to spread itself to thin across to many lines – nice touch.

I’ve always said if you can play it a party or a gathering, then it’s marketable. The music is very, very, very marketable – with a fresh sound that delivers a passionate optimism very much like Farren himself. My favorite songs are the hot ones: Love Junkie, Four-Letter Word, Not Worth Writing About and The Tail is Waggin’ This Dog Again.

Criticism: None

Conclusion: Let me go on record by stating Joe Farren has no real weaknesses that I can see and hear. He has everything and this latest string of songs on Open Skies are an endearing statement limited by nothing. I would imagine in time we will hear more from this artist from Tampa in the years unfold. Time will tell but I can honestly say this is one artist that is set up for marketable success down the road with her musical personality and fresh sound that gives modern country-pop-folk a well needed wake up call.

Rating 4.5/5

For more, visit www.joefarren.com

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