Album Review – Tyler Farr’s ‘Suffer in Peace’

Tyler Farr began his career like many of his counter parts. He wrote some songs for Joe Nichols and Colt Ford, earned a record deal, and cashed in hard on bro-country. His first top-ten single (third overall single) “Redneck Crazy” helped Farr get noticed. His follow-up of “Whiskey in My Water” proved to be a worthy single to further establish Farr as a productive mainstream country act for his label. However, it appeared that Farr was just a one-trick pony riding the wave of country music’s newest fad. With that said, Farr showed a different side of himself on a new single ahead of new album, Suffer in Peace, and maybe silenced a bit of doubters. And there are just enough moments on Suffer in Peace to show that Tyler Farr is capable of more than bro-country.

Ironically though, you wouldn’t know it by the opening track. “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.” is a song where Tyler Farr simply lists a ton of incoherent things that apparently make him country. And to be frank, you can’t even understand half of his list items because he screams almost all of it on top of heavy drum beats and guitars. Also Farr proudly exclaims how having “truck nuts” hanging on his pickup is something awesome and country. When I see truck nuts on someone’s truck, I don’t think you’re cool or country, I only think of a word that starts with a “D” and ends with an “ouche.” This is by far the worst song on the album, so we only go up from here.

Up next is “A Guy Walks Into a Bar.” Josh rightfully praised the song in his review for its writing and depth. It was a good cut by Farr for the album. The polished, rock/country blend of “A Guy Walks Into a Bar” finds itself on many of the other songs of Suffer In Peace. “Withdrawals” is a good example of that production; in fact, this sounds more like a straight rock song. Content-wise, Farr compares his love to drugs and booze, and how her leaving him is putting him in withdrawals. Yawn. I’m becoming very annoyed with this Ke$ha, “Your Love is my Drug” trope. I understand there’s an underlying pain to song’s sentiment, but it feels like a cheap way to tell a heartbreak story. Also it sounds like Tyler Farr is trying way to hard to evoke the emotion of the song; his vocal delivery on this track is off-putting to me.

Tyler Farr brings in Jason Aldean to help him out on a song called “Damn Good Friends.” Surprisingly, this song is actually kind of good. It carries many of the same themes from another friend song collaborations you may remember: Tracy Lawrence, Tim McGraw, and Kenny Chesney’s “Find Out Who Your Friends Are.” Farr calls his “damn good friends” after driving his car into a ditch while drinking and driving. Aldean calls his friends to back him up in a bar fight. The production is rather safe pop country, and the vocals for both Farr and Aldean work well on this track.  Following that is probably the best song of the entire album. “Suffer in Peace” is about Farr contemplating leaving town after a breakup. It tortures him to see her with another man, and he dreams of being out in the country, far away from it all where he can soul search and suffer in peace. This is how you tell a heartbreak story. The stripped down production aided by Tyler Farr’s vocal performance fit nicely with the material.

“Raised to Pray” is an interesting tune for me. On one hand, the song holds to religion proudly, even reflecting back on times where more devotion should have been given to reading the Bible. On the other hand though, the sentiment of being raised to pray seems to come off as an excuse for being reckless and sinful. The story is all over the place, not really developing anything to latch onto. The song just sort of hangs there in limbo. Also, the hip-hop effects added into the already overproduced rock production certainly doesn’t help its case. “Criminal” shuffles between a hip-hop infused verse melody, a decently country chorus production, and a rock and roll guitar solo. The song itself is about comparing a woman to a criminal because she stole all his bad days and left him with good ones. Overall, the song is weirdly aggressive for the point to come across clearly.

“Better in Boots” is your token, bro-country song. Attractive female? Check. Friday night? Check. Full moon? Check. A weird hip-hop infusion with the country? Check. This song is Tyler Farr trying to be hip and sexy, and he is neither of those things. It comes off as creepy more than anything. However, “Poor Boy” shows a better side of Farr singing a love song. This is simply about how Farr isn’t as wealthy as the girl he’s in love with, and the differences in their social class raises some eyebrows in her crowd. But those differences don’t matter to them because they have an honest love for one another. There’s a good amount of authenticity to the story’s sentiment. “Poor Boy” is on the positive side of Suffer in Peace.

Tyler Farr sings of heartbreak again in “I Don’t Even Want This Beer.” And again, this heartbreak song is well done. There’s a bit of hip-hop elements in the production, but that gets abandoned in the chorus. Farr sings of moping and drinking at a bar on a Tuesday while she moves on from the relationship. He knows that he should be calling her to apologize, but he just sits at the bar wondering why he’s there. I think his vocals here are good. The album ends with “Why We Live Here.” This is another anthem to living the simple life: a good house, loyal friends, freedom, baseball, and of course, beer. Farr gives thanks for these privileges and says we live here because God gifted it to us, and the sacrifices of the military protect those freedoms. The message of the song is nice, but it hits on way too many clichés and panders quite a bit to the south. It’s another list of things he does in the country, just with less attempts to sound bad ass as opposed to the opening track.

Overall Suffer in Peace shows two sides of Tyler Farr. There’s the side where he digs deep and shows some vulnerability with some good, well-written heartbreakers; the side the album is named for. Then you have the other side where Tyler Farr wants you to know how much of a cool, tough, country boy he can be; the side where the album’s picture of Farr on a 4-wheeler comes into play. This tough guy side comes off a bit trashy at times and isn’t anything new to the country music world. However, Farr separates himself a bit from his male counterparts with ballads that are spread throughout the album. While the production is rather consistent throughout, the drastic differences in attitudes and stories are a bit jarring when listening to it. Suffer in Peace is better than I thought it would be, but still doesn’t offer much more than a few songs worth listening to again.

Grade: 5/10

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “Album Review – Tyler Farr’s ‘Suffer in Peace’

  1. Well maybe Tyler going for a mix effort maybe jus maybe Cole Swindell or Chase Rice Thomas Rhett could make decent albums. Oh who am I kidding there all dumb and faceless.

    Good job with the review Derek I’m glad Tyler took a step in the right direction I heard the album this weekend and with the exception of C.O.U.N.T.R.Y the rest of the songs despite flawed aren’t half bad overall I’d give this a 6/10 I’m actually curious to see where Tyler goes from here.

    Looks like the next mainstream album is Kelsea Ballerini I’m excited for it only because I was a pretty but fan of Taylor Swift so Kelsea fills the mold perfectly besides I take her over Raelynn any day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Raymond! “Suffer in Peace” and “Withdrawls” were heavily promoted and released early before the album, so I wouldn’t be surprised if either of them were his next single release. I think “Why We Live Here” has a that simple life, easy going feeling to it that would make it a nice summer tune on the radio (kind of like ZBB’s “Chicken Fried).

      Honestly with the exception of “Better in Boots” or “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.” (man that’s annoying to type), the rest of the songs here wouldn’t be terrible radio singles.

      Like

      • Oh I’m never typing that title again it’s especially difficult on my iPad but man it’s nice to hear Jason Aldean sing a nice song I presume you liked You Find Out Who You’re Friends Are by Tracy Lawrence.

        1 out of 10 what do you give the chances of Cole Swindell Thomas Rhett or Chase Rice moving away from trashy albums. I’ve noticed something though with the exception of Reba and Dwight Yoakam many of the other mainstream albums have fallen in this 5 to 7 range I wonder which artists will be next. But definitely consider myself interested in what Tyler does.

        Like

      • Cole: 3 (he might *try* to be less trashy, but it’ll come off as a poor attempt, like in “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey”)
        Thomas: 6 (his album just might be full of misguided pop/funk grooves with songs trying to convey meaning. I wouldn’t be surprised if his album is a lot more “Crash and Burns”)
        Chase: 1 (this dude is the definition of trashy bro country)

        I don’t think any of these guys can be authentically sincere like Tyler Farr does in a few of these songs

        Like

      • One last question what are you anticipating a grade for Kelsea Ballerini and Gloriana’s albums

        Like

  2. Based on our two reviews, we are pretty much on the same page. Personally though, I felt “Damn Good Friends” was way too much of a ripoff of “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” right down to the first lines being about a car being run into a ditch.

    “Better In Boots” and “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.” were just awful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, the first verse of Farr/Aldean was very much the same as Lawrence/McGraw/Chesney. But I thought after the first verse, they drove the song their own way and made it work well.

      Like

    • Eh, while I get where you’re coming from and did note the lyrical mirror toward the beginning of the track, I thought “Damn Good Friends” accomplished enough to deviate from Tracy Lawrence’s modern classic.

      I thought the song’s second verse, while definitely too macho and aggressive for my tastes (I’m decidedly, with self-affirming confidence, effeminate) in describing how friends stick up for each other as brothers in barroom brawls, is nonetheless something that reflects what really happens in many communities and so struck me as believable. And the bridge, I have to say, hit me.

      *

      Of course I don’t expect everyone to agree with my interpretation of “Why We Live Here”, and I acknowledge as a pragmatist pacifist that’s registered as an Independent voter, my views are certainly a minority amidst the broader country listening demographic. But I’d confidently argue “Why We Live Here” is much more derivative and paint-by-numbers as a song than “Damn Good Friends” is.

      And look: I absolutely appreciate my fair share of songs that extol our troops and the love of our country. I just get irate when you get songs that claim they’re doing so but are obviously peddling something else entirely behind that flag-waving veneer. I feel my intelligence is insulted as a listener. If you’re going to deliver a song honoring our troops, just do it. And focus your full attention on them. Don’t drag baseball, Bibles, fried chicken, blue jeans or cold beer into it.

      Like

  3. As someone who absolutely LOATHED his eponymous debut album (minus “Living For The Blues”), for the aggressively bad bro-lyricism, offensive themes and very poor vocals………………I have to say I found more to like than dislike about this album and “Suffer In Peace”, dare I say, is pretty good.

    *

    The first thing I observed about “Suffer In Peace” is that I picked up a “Wide Open” to “My Kinda Party”-era Jason Aldean vibe when taking in the whole of it: namely characterized by a dominance of mid-tempo cuts, guitar tones that veer towards arena rock without squelching the country flavors in the form of pedal steel and banjo, and a disposition that gravitates between macho posturing and vulnerability.

    I especially appreciate that Farr’s producers (Julian King and Jim Catino) largely deviate from the use of hip-hop beats and EDM influences (and trust me: when you have to use the word “deviate” in a country music context, you KNOW you have a serious problem presently) and instead offer something of a country rock flavor that preceded the emergence of bro-country. The obsession with mid-tempo may limit Farr’s appeal and not make for the most complete showcasing of his potential as a performer, but I’d argue this time around, at least, he makes it work to his advantage……………..and that brings me to his song selection.

    *

    Now, it’s most unfortunate that he opens the album with an atrocity that hearkens back to his debut in “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.” Any song that cites Truck Nutz is an instant deal-breaker to me. And let’s se if I get this straight: Eastabuchie Booger Hooker Possum Knuckle Bug? Granted I grew up in southeastern Missouri, followed by Arvada, Colorado, so it’s probably just Southern lingo I’m unfamiliar with………….but then again, would even many Southerners know what the heck Farr is referring to? I can understand how it was necessary to start the album off with an up-tempo as opposed to a mid-tempo, but it doesn’t excuse how pointless at best, grating at worst this is.

    I’ve already talked about “A Guy Walks Into A Bar”, but my opinion hasn’t changed. It’s a pretty solid single that understands the wisdom of “less is more” in that the chorus reiterates the near-universal revolving door cliche of love and loss, and the verses do just enough to reveal how the narrator is “walkin’ talkin’ drinkin’ proof” he’s the cliche in the corner booth and make it feel personal. The production is nothing to write home about, but is serviceable and Farr’s vocals are also fitting for this song in that his weathered tones make for convincing experience.

    “Withdrawals” is more of a mixed bag. Vocally, Farr offers one of his best performances to date, and I’m inclined to agree the production compliments the vibe of the song well. Lyrically, though, this is all “Been there, said that!” and comparing her to whiskey and Mary Jane in the opening couplet just came across as forced to me. Some of the other imagery is surely believable, but then again, didn’t we just hear all this in Keith Urban’s “Somewhere In My Car”…………….and for that matter, plenty of songs before that? “Withdrawals” is an example of that kind of song where I can respect some of the sum of its parts, but doesn’t exactly stick the landing when its remaining parts are not ambitious at all.

    It’s quite fitting I’ve compared this album to “Wide Open” or “My Kinda Party”-era Jason Aldean already…………………when “Damn Good Friends” features Aldean himself. And truth be told, “Damn Good Friends” is pretty solid. The production is definitely geared towards mainstream sensibilities, but admirably doesn’t suppress the whiffs of pedal steel to make it unmistakably modern country. And while the lyrics are a blatantly obvious nod to “Find Out Who Your Friends Are”, I still appreciate this sentiment that hasn’t been touched in mainstream country much as of late, and think they do enough so it doesn’t look like an overt ground for plagiarism. The bridge, in particular, honestly resonated a lot with me. I’m sure we’ve all wondered, here and there, whether we’d ever see a close friend again after moving or settling down……………and then, like a bolt from the blue, they’re at your wedding or other milestone moment. And I seriously was sold by the end.

    The title track picks up a winning streak. Farr’s vocals are surprisingly intimate and understated and it comes to show, when he chooses to let down that exaggeratedly macho guard down as a crutch, he can tap into such deeper territory and absolutely hit home runs. The acoustic-driven production compliments his voice like olive oil and kale, and…………….wow at the lyrics. While the imagery and ruminations are intensely personal, particularly in the second verse where he mentions bumping into an old flame outside the Tiger Mart at his old high school, they feel naturally universal all the same in how the chorus is conveyed: where sometimes we need to get away from the world, let it all out, and recharge. Simply amazing song.

    “Raised To Pray” is one of those kind of songs that has the germ and kernel of a good idea, but falls short in communicating it. Because look: I get what they were going for and they come close to articulating it with some believable descriptions and narration. But where, say, Frankie Ballard’s “Young & Crazy” succeeds better in explaining how it is actually wise to respect youthful autonomy and discern the payoff in the well-intentioned, naive mistakes that make up much of our rites of passages to adulthood, with a hook that strikes more as common sense than excuse-making…………….it can’t help but come across as excuse-making in the case of “Raised To Pray”. There just isn’t enough moral underpinning or context here………….leaving a divided and frustrating listen.

    “Criminal” has nothing interesting to offer lyrically, but I’d argue this is intended as more of a groove song. And, overall, it works well enough. It doesn’t go far enough to stand out as anything memorable, but I’ll take it.

    “Better In Boots”, on the other hand………..just provides nothing. It shouldn’t have any place here and just smacks as hobbled by committee. This is also one of only two songs that even remotely flirt with hip-hop influences on the album, and just looks absolutely dislocated here. Should have left this on the cutting room floor for Chase Rice or Cole Swindell.

    Farr regains momentum with “Poor Boy”. As much as modern country prides itself on enjoying the “simple things” and not needing much to “have it made”, we nonetheless don’t get a lot of fodder that raises awareness of class disparity in our culture. And on that basis alone, “Poor Boy” is refreshing to hear. Now, one may be dismissive and argue that, much like Trace Adkins’ “Marry For Money”, the narrator is more of an opportunist…………..but here’s why I’d disagree. Firstly, even Adkins’ song was clearly tongue-in-cheek in its delivery anyway and, secondly, there’s a tenderness to Farr’s delivery that makes it sound like it’s coming from someplace real. Had he delivered the song with more of a stoic Aldean-esque emotionally-detached poise, then I might have come to a rather different read………………..but “Poor Boy” clicked both as a whole and as the sum of its parts.

    “I Don’t Even Want This Beer” is also solid. Especially with the glut of celebratory drinking songs over the past decade, which have only accelerated in their aggressive marketing since the rise of bro-country………………..it almost seems revolutionary to have a drinking song where the narrator admits: “Wait…………….what am I doing here anyway?” Now I’m not intending to preach morals an values here, but……………….as someone who only has about one alcoholic beverage once a month on average and no more than twenty any calendar year to date……………..I for one have long believed the main motivation many have to drink is not to drown the blues away anymore, but because of peer pressure and aggressive marketing. Think of all the aggressive brand name-dropping in not just mainstream country, but pop and EDM as well. Where radio country/”country” superstars namedrop Jack Daniels, Fireball and Bud Light, top EDM and pop artists have name-dropped Petron, Grey Goose and Voli vodka. And both have name-dropped Bacardi in equal measure. There used to be a time where the main motivation to drink had a decidedly commiserating appeal to it, and it’s sometimes still the case………….but more often than not, it has absolutely nothing to do with blue-collar, “Drinking Class”-esque solidarity or crying in a glass. It’s because it’s the hip thing to do and, if you’re not doing it, you’re going to be left out. It’s largely about conformity. And so I realize I digressed there……………………..but now you can see why the self-awareness of “I Don’t Even Want This Beer” is refreshing to behold, even while admitting himself he hasn’t been sober since his old flame left him.

    Finally, we come to the obligatory flag-waiving (I dare say jingoistic) closing song: “Why We Live Here”. Now, Farr has said in interviews that he considers this the album’s most honest song and, added, that it was just his way of thanking the troops for their sacrifices and it was the least he could do to show his thanks. And all of that is great. I don’t at all doubt his sincerity. That said, while he definitely invests himself in his interpretation of it and it sounds authentic, I have a serious issue with these lyrics just as I did with the Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried” and numerous other songs that wrap themselves in the flag as an excuse and distraction from their lazy lyrical shortcomings and then, worse, brand you unpatriotic just for criticizing them. So let me be clear: I don’t take issue with the songwriting because Farr and many others think of it as patriotic. I take issue with the songwriting in how lazy and insulting to the intelligence they are. Farr may insist it’s nothing more than a tribute to our troops, but it is clear upon reading the lyrics on paper that there’s a lot more going on. For instance, take the second verse:

    *

    “Got a gun and a Bible by my bed,
    try to live by the words in red…”

    *

    What does that have to do with supporting our troops?

    Then, in the third verse, we get an otherwise nice third-person narration of a man serving overseas and fondly gazing at a picture of his wife tucked in his vest……….but then we get the lyric: “…fighting the fight we ain’t finished yet.” Again, that doesn’t sound like a pure salute to the troops. It smacks more as jingoistic warmongering and saber-rattling. I resent these type of songs that try and sell this sort of hyper-patriotic sentiment but conflate supporting the troops with anti-intellectual “Patriotism Means No Questions Asked” aggression.

    Oh, and in the bridge, he sings:

    *

    “Whether your road,
    is dirt or paved,
    red, white, and blue,
    we’re all the same…”

    *

    Uh, no we’re not.

    Much like I couldn’t take Toby Keith’s “Drunk Americans” seriously in his intellectually dishonest attempt to dismiss the cultural chasms in our nation presently, we’re not all the same. Income disparity is at unprecedented lengths presently. I’d argue, despite overall crime being at its lowest levels in all modern history, that this nation is at its most polarized since the Civil War. America remains a beautiful place I am proud to call home, but it is absolutely a brass-knuckled smack to the intellectual face to assert we’re all the same. Especially when you spend the earlier part of your song insisting we’re fighting the fight we haven’t won yet.

    “Why We Live Here” ends what is otherwise a generally strong album with a cold hard thud…………and kind of lft a sour taste in my mouth, honestly.

    *

    *

    All in all, “Suffer In Peace” marks an impressive era-to-era improvement for Tyler Farr that has succeeded in making me interested in where he can further grow from here on out. If he can mix up his tempo selections a bit more, continue to tap into themes like those on the title track, “Poor Boy” and “I Don’t Even Want This Beer”, and get a couple monkeys off his back that are empty calorie bro-country sensibilities and warmonger screeds wrapped in the guise of patriotic salutations…………….Farr can really emerge as something special.

    I’m going to give “Suffer In Peace” a moderate 6/10, and I would recommend downloading the tracks I highlighted while skipping “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.”, “Why We Live Here” and “Better In Boots”. As for those in-between (“Withdrawals”, “Raised to Pray”, “Criminal”), I’ll leave it to you to decide.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had alot of the same issues with “Raised to Pray”…. it basically throws religion and Jesus’ sacrifice to save our sins as an excuse to behave a recklessly and carelessly as possible, because hey, we have God on our side. The heartbreak ballads do well here, they’re definitely the best of the bunch.

      Like

      • What made Frankie Ballard’s “Young & Crazy”, in contrast, very refreshing…………..is the self-awareness that he provides.

        Granted you can still easily argue he is making excuses of his own, and I would say he goes a bit too far when he says: “How will I know where to draw the line, if I don’t cross it a few hundred times?” (May not be wise to say when it comes to consent in sexual relationships and dating, Frankie! 😉 )………….all in all I also would argue the basic message there is more important than many realize. Truth be told, ever since September 11th, many parents have become “helicopter parents”………..namely that they are constantly monitoring their children and try and prevent them from making most ANY mistake.

        And while I understand some of the sentiment is coming from an understandable protective instinct, the bottom line is you HAVE to find a balance. YES…………….having no guidance and boundaries whatsoever makes for neglectful parenting. But stifling a child’s freedom and trusting them to explore beyond the front porch is just as neglectful. I know many parents who are much the latter, and I’ll be blunt: fear is not love. It’ll only stunt the emotional and social growth of their children.

        Whether intentionally or not, Frankie Ballard’s “Young & Crazy” speaks straight to this reality and is as much social commentary as it is a catchy “Carpe diem!” anthem. And that’s why it has surprisingly grown on me a lot over recent months.

        *

        “Raised To Pray” fails to make the same sort of connection.

        Again, I know what the writers of that song were going for and can appreciate the intention. But they just don’t succeed at connecting the dots like the writers of “Young & Crazy” did. Where the latter has a reflective quality to it despite being an energetic rocker, the former is all about attitude and would just elicit: “Hell yeah, that dude speaks the truth! Let’s get drunk, run red lights and play tag with the blue lights!” =P

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.