Since the dawn of civilization, humans have been making music both to tell stories and pass time. And since those prehistoric days of hunting with spears and painting on caves, there has been good and bad music. Some people were meant to be musicians, others were meant to be anything else. Tyler Farr should have been something else.
That’s harsh and a little unfair of me, I suppose. The truth is, Farr is not a terrible singer. In fact, his vocal chops are on par with most other popular artists on country music charts right now, and they’re better than a handful. I heard a few of his live performances, and they did not stand out as noteworthy in a bad sense. He can sing, which is good since he’s, you know, a singer.
“Suffer in Peace” is a complicated album to judge him by. On the cover we see Farr standing on an ATV in the middle of a field, hands in his pockets, gazing longingly toward the horizon.
Why is he standing? Where is everyone? Great questions, but not the ones that are relevant, I suppose. I’m here to judge Tyler Farr the musician, not Tyler Farr the person.
In truth, I was reluctant to give this album a listen after the garbage fire that was “Redneck Crazy.” This stalker-anthem is what launched Farr into fame, but I’ve never had any love for the single. However, when I did finally give “Suffer in Peace” a spin, it all became a bit confusing, much like the album cover.
Several songs stood out to me for reasons I didn’t anticipate. The title track, “Poor Boy,” and “I Don’t Even Want This Beer” were stunningly heartfelt and shone light on a much deeper, more traditional side of an artist whose claim to fame was a trope about flinging beer cans at his ex-girlfriend. In particular, “I Don’t Even Want This Beer” is a song I found myself listening to more than once. The instrumentation, vocals, and production aren’t overdone, and the lyrical theme is meaningful. Based on these three songs alone, the album shines.
Then the chaos follows, snapping at my heels like a starved wolf. All the progress made with these three songs is lit on fire and tossed into a pit when “Why We Live Here,” “Better in Boots,” and “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y” are played. The cliches are used like weapons. What a letdown when there are songs in the lineup that are actually worth the air!
The worst offender is “Damn Good Friends,” Farr’s duet with country music heavy-hitter Jason Aldean. That song has received flack for its subtle references to drunk driving, but the questionable theme isn’t my only concern. The song just isn’t good. It’s another laundry list song brimming with unoriginal lyrics geared toward the 18- to 34-year-old demographic who are fleeing the country genre with alarming rapidity. The audience who, just a few years ago, would have lost their $5 straw cowboy hats over it no longer care about country music. They’ve moved on.
If Tyler Farr could cut an entire album with the same substance as “Suffer in Peace,” “Poor Boy,” and “I Don’t Even Want This Beer,” he could be taken seriously as a traditional country music artist, but until he and his “Bro Country” buddies take off their Ray Bans long enough to notice that the tides are shifting, this album and others like it will continue to miss the mark.