Black Music Matters Festival

Clay Farmer

Clay Farmer – 2001 (Hobo Soul)

Reviewed by Scott Homewood

CDs by Clay Farmer

It almost seems to be a trend for new artists from Texas to include a couple mentions of their Lone Star State and a few pertinent characteristics of the landscape and immediately expect to be regarded as a successor to Guy Clark or Townes Van Zandt. Despite the recent glut of Texas singer/songwriters in the Americana movement, some do shine through as authentic, genuine talents and worthy representatives of the vital music that originated there.

Clay Farmer may soon be seen as one of them. Loading up his debut with many of the same good-ol'-boy imagery and Texas name-checking other artists are being criticized for, Farmer has an undeniable authencity that seems to escape most singer/songwriters.

Alternating between country shuffles ("Texas Skies"), blusier numbers ("Skip Tu Da Lu") and harder rocking numbers ("Already Gone") Farmer musically covers the state's musical legacies with enough skill to make them sound real, but without the excess polish that would make the music sound forced or sterile. There's a vitality and a realness here.

As a songwriter, Farmer sometimes falls victim to a clichT or two, but these seem kept to a minimum and are balanced by vivid detail, brevity and a knack for insight that convey a deep understanding of nuance and storytelling. Fans of artists like Robert Earl Keen, Clark and Van Zandt would probably "get" what Farmer is doing.