Between Then and Now
2017 / Riverboy Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Between Then and Now is Nick Farr’s ninth album of original compositions and is perhaps his most adventurous work to date. The twelve tracks present a mix of genres that fit together beautifully yet demonstrate the many different roads Farr has traveled “between then and now.” Instrumentation ranges from solo piano to small ensemble and large orchestra, with each piece telling a different story. A classically-trained pianist from the age of 5, Farr is also a published writer of prose and poetry, and has written several children’s books. Storytelling comes very naturally to him in both words and music. On this album, Farr performs on piano, synthesizers and percussion, and additional instrumentation is performed by an excellent group of supporting musicians on guitars, horns, strings, flutes and reeds. The album was created over an extended period of time, and during that process, several of the pieces grew into larger, more complex works.
Between Then and Now opens with “Thinking of You,” a warm and relaxed smooth jazz piece. Piano, synth, electric guitar, sax, bass and light percussion create an inviting and welcoming ambiance. “Late Night Rendezvous” introduces Ben Jones on trumpet along with piano, synth and percussion. Silky smooth and sensuous, it could be a sweet and romantic slow dance. “Within Reach” is an upbeat and optimistic piano solo. “Memphis, 1989” pays homage to a great music city and also recalls the sights and sounds of walking down Beale Street with a friend years ago. Sax, electric guitar, piano, percussion and bass create an easy blues atmosphere. “Happy Hour” returns to more of a cool and breezy smooth jazz vibe. “A New Beginning” expresses the optimism and anticipation of a fresh start with a gentle rhythm and some especially-nice electric guitar playing by Lyman Golden. “Blackberry Lane” refers to a specific stretch of dirt road on Farr’s farm. The piece began as a lyrical song, but grew into a fully-orchestrated beauty that evokes images of rolling green hills, childhood innocence, and pastoral farmland - a highlight of the album! I also really like “Whip-Poor-Will,” which was inspired by the call of a night bird. Piano, flute, cello, viola and violin sing the sweet and calming bird song, gently soothing the cares of the day away. Love it! “Trail of Tears” tells the tragic story of the Cherokee people. It begins with the simple sound of Native flutes and grows to include brass instruments and drums, becoming ever more dramatic as the conflict escalates - a very poignant and powerful piece of music! “Snow Soldiers” very effectively tells the story of a battle-worn yet victorious army returning home after war. Fully orchestrated, the horns and drums are especially dramatic. The closing track, “Aurora Green,” brings us back to a light jazz piano solo that ends the album with a smile.
The variety of music on Between Then and Now will appeal to a wide range of listeners, and yet the album holds together as a wonderful collection of short stories without words. The album is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Recommended!
October 27, 2017