Dan O'Farell

When you purchase an album from an artist; have you ever thought about the blood, sweat, and tears that go into making that album? The whole process starts with an original idea with writing, creating the music, finding the right musicians, recording, and mastering. That is even before you have thought about the album artwork, release gig, promotion and putting it up on all the streaming services. Southampton inmate Dan O’Farrell knows a thing or two about the creative process and has already released records by his former band “Accrington Stanley” and a debut by current outfit The Difference Engine. Well it is indeed time for that difficult 2nd release and for this Dan is putting his head on the line with “These Dark Ages Are Hurting All the People That We Love”.

For someone who usually spends a lot of time performing alone with just his acoustic guitar, Dan has been recruiting like a military press ganger and has brought together a Smörgåsbord of local talent to help him record the 12 tracks. There are some exciting additions including Saxophones, Cello, Pedal Steel, a trio of violinists as well as some supplementary vocals. 10 of the tracks were recorded at Rob Sansome’s Factory Road Studios with the core trio recording entirely live. The other two songs ‘Safe House’ & ‘Escape’ were recorded at Quay West Studios in Gosport and engineered and mixed by Nick Bowen. The band managed to play them both slightly too fast first time round, and thought it would be interesting to try a different approach.

The album kicks off with “True North”; a love song of sorts and starts the listener on a truly eclectic journey of an artist who wants to push himself and discover new areas of his own abilities, and how he can use these with the help of other newly acquainted musicians. Dan seems intent on really upping his game from the debut record and here there are plenty of cryptic lyrical conundrums that make you really think what’s going on here. Take the rather infectious “Death By 1000 Cuts”, it’s a tune that has plenty going on and you need about six proper attentive listens to really understand what is happening. There are strings and saxophones; matched with guitars and Dan’s sharp vocal delivery, coupled with some nice harmonization arrangements. ‘Through A Glass Darkly’ is an ode to alcohol and namechecks plenty of everyone’s favourite bar beverages. The beauty of Philippa Baldwin’s violin and Chris Walsh’s spot on percussion brings out Dan’s inner Dexy’s.

Dan O'Farell

“What Can I Do” is lyrically frustrating with the addressing of political concerns and I’m guessing it’s hard to make a real difference when there are more pressing closer concerns to deal with. Putting the hard-hitting lyrics to one side Rufus Grig’s delectable string arrangement is just adorable. “The Revolution Will Not Be Trivialised” is the centrepiece of the album and debates more political concerns, while “Shit Basket” lightens the mood with the tune done in similar style to the “Only Fools and Horses” theme…just listen and you’ll hear I’m right!! This is clearly Dan leading you down one route; turning on a sixpence while completely changing direction in an instant to “Escape”, a much gentler more serious tune. “Ghosts” is the revisiting of past glories from days gone by, a tune originally written for former band ‘Accrington Stanley’ and shamefully left on the shelf until now – just listen to those strings flow, especially that haunting cello.

I think at this moment in time “On Scars” is possibly my favourite tune on the album, it is just infectious from start to finish and has lots of “Je ne sais quoi” about it. The background story is not mine to tell but if you are interested, ask Dan over a pint one day and I’m sure he will reveal all. “Safe House” is the album’s “Trump Song” and it is where the album gets its unusually long name. It is about looking over your shoulder in these dangerous times, it is particularly about America but really could be about anywhere. “Cold Circuits” is another tune pulled from the dusty cutting room floor, luckily for us. It’s a beautifully put together tune that features some lovely vocal harmonies that don’t disappoint. The final track of the album “Come On Back” is another one of my favourites and sees Dan delivering a really fine tune that though simple, is effective on all levels and includes some nicely executed harmonica; a tune that is so Dan O’Farrell it is almost a tribute to himself.

These twelve tunes have been a joy to listen to and unlike the many albums I get sent over the course of the year, it won’t be put on the shelf never to be heard again. This is a record that needs listening to intently, the more you listen the more you find. Dan and his eclectic team of musicians have put their all in to make this and he quotes “It was an absolute labour of love and has probably broken me for a few years to come. But I am inordinately proud of it and really want people to hear it”. So get yourself a copy, listen to it in the car, play it in your headphones on a dog walk, listen at home or just go and see Dan play it live and find out what a remarkable musician he really is.

Track Listing
True North
Death by 1000 Cuts
Through a Glass Darkly
What Can I Do
The Revolution Will Not Be Trivialised
Shit Basket
On Scars
Safe House
Cold Circuits
Come on Back

Band Members
Dan O’Farrell – Guitar/Vocals
Rick Foot – Double-Bass/Vocals
Chris Walsh – Drums/Percussion

Guest Musicians
Mike Davies – Pedal Steel/Guitar/Vocals
Rufus Grig – Cello/Piano/Vocals
Philippa Baldwin – Violin

Mary Hyde – Violin
Louise Owen – Violin
Claire Foster – Violin
Clare Canning – Vocals
Henry Baroche – Saxophone
Alfie Grig – Saxaphone


Contact: danandkaren@sky.com

Words by David Chinery (Chinners).

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