Robert Connely Farr
Bentonia Just Unearthed Another Rough Diamond.
My Mother always told me to ‘never judge a book by the cover’; and to some degree that’s true of Albums too; and boy is it true of this one!
It’s certainly a ‘cool enough’ cover and probably something that would catch my eye in a record shop; but God Almighty! It wouldn’t prepare me for what we are about to receive when the needle comes down ….. at all.
Although slow and sultry, opening track Cypress Grove comes at you like an out of control steam roller.
OK I now know it’s a a Skip James song; but I’ve never heard it before; and even if I had I doubt I would recognise it from the way Robert Connely Farr squeezes every ounce of drama out of it, like Hitchcock on mogodons.
Bloody Hell! I already love this album to bits after only one song!
Again; I don’t recognise Track #2, Girl in the Holler, but it’s a Leo Bud Welch song and Farr, cranks up the tempo with the addition of a steel rimmed band behind him and man …… is this Heavy!
Skip James? Leo Bud Welch? Do you see where this is not just going; but actually coming from?
Robert Connely Farr actually hails from Mississippi and has been mentored by Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes in the Bentonia Style of Delta Blues and, this is a good thing; puts his own indelible twist on one of my favourite styles of music.
Do you want Raw? Gritty? Honest Blues …… the type that will scare the dogs away?
Well; that’s what you get here ….. and more.
It turns out Farr wasn’t particularly a lover of the Blues when he lived in the Delta, only becoming attracted the music of his homeland after moving North to Vancouver, Canada.
Perhaps that’s the reason he can take an age old format and lovingly bring it bang up to date on his own songs; none more so than the threatening I Ain’t Dying, Bad Bad Feeling and the guitar melter Cadillac Problems; all of which conjure up memories of the heady era when the likes of the Groundhogs and The Pretty Things where treading the boards and educating long haired youths all across the Western Plains and beyond.
I love the way Farr (and bandmates Jon Wood, Tommy Hillifer and Jay Bundy Johnson) keep faith with the covers they include; none more so than the static they create on Catfish; their take on Jimmy Holmes’ Must’ve Been The Devil somehow sounds reverential but truly contemporary at the same time …… which is a really clever trick to pull off.
But if I’m forced to select a Favourite Song it really has to be one of Farr’s own compositions; which comfortably sit alongside their Bntonia counterparts in comfort and ease.
The sultry Bad Whiskey has to be a contender as it has more than a hint of Hill Country in the melody but is never the less Bluer than Blue, Blues at its finest.
The magnificent and slow burning If It Was Up To Me was another early contender, as it more than nods in the direction of Skynard, in the way Farr uses his natural drawl as in instrument in its own rite.
As this is The Blues; loving, losing and being heartbroken is never far away; which brings me to Can’t Be Satisfied and the ‘ornery Bad Bad Feeling which is difficult to choose between as my actual Favourite; with possibly the latter winning as Hillifer’s bass actually made the office speakers shake at one stage ….. which is a first!
Obviously this is going to be an album for aficionados and certainly not for the casual listener; but those; like me with an open mind and matching ears will cherish this 16 track album for years to come and speak of it in hushed tones in dark corners of scruffy bars, to like minded folk that they trust.
Released October 17th 2020
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