‘Just Another Night’, the debut record from Nottingham-based singer-songwriter Ryan Farmer wastes little time in giving the listener a precise idea of what to expect for the next forty minutes. Within the first sixty seconds of the excellently-titled ‘She Can Do Everything (But Fall In Love With Me)’, he ticks all the old-time country cliché boxes, as he sings of turning his back to Jesus, copious amounts of whiskey, and an elusive lover. The track is akin to the classic country sound which has been popularised by the likes of Joshua Hedley et al in recent times and despite the themes which have been heard before a million times or more, the track is charming enough to ingratiate itself amongst their standards.
Far too often on ‘Just Another Night’, Farmer plays it safe with his melodies and lyrical themes. For every ‘Motordrome Blues’, a mandolin-led honky-tonk stomp and a genuine thrill, there is a ‘Down To The Water’ a bland, alt-country ballad which is only saved by Stevie-Leigh Goodison’s breezy backing vocals which add subtle elegance.
When Farmer avoids the clichés, which pepper a large chunk of the record, he proves he has the potential to be an excellent lyricist. On the haunting ‘Amelia’, he sings of the suicide of the titular character and laments “young Amelia came to be a martyr of the game that she loved, for a victory she’d never get to see”. On the heartfelt closer ‘Ran Aground’, which is the highlight of the record, Farmer sings “Tie me to the mast, don’t let me down if I ask, at least not till the storm has passed and washed away my sins” with a beautiful Sturgill Simpson-esque delivery.
Nottingham may not be renowned for being a country music hotbed, but the city does have a burgeoning talent in its midst. The record isn’t going to win any awards for originality, but Farmer wears his influences proudly on his sleeve and is clear on the musical path he is taking. On the moments in which he allows himself to come into his own, there are some excellent results, and with a little more ambition, this would have been a debut to properly write home about. Regardless, there is enough on here to suggest Ryan Farmer certainly is one to keep an eye on.