ANDREW FARRISS

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And now for something completely different.   Andrew Farriss, a founding member of the multi-platinum-selling Australian rock band INXS, has mounted a trusty steed to deliver Americana-rooted  Country music in his self-titled debut solo album.  This unique masterpiece of Farriss' Country music foray follows on from his self-introducing EP “Love Makes The World” which was released in late  2020.  Now Andrew Farriss,  one of Australia’s most decorated songwriters,  continues his successful journey into Country and Americana  music genres with his self-titled debut album.   

Farriss was the founding member and primary composer for one of Australia’s most iconic and globally recognizable rock bands of all time, INXS.   In the late seventies he joined his brothers Tim and Jon along with Kirk Pengilly, Garry Beers and the late Michael Hutchence to form INXS, touring over a career of thirty-five years and amassing  well over fifty million global album sales across twelve studio records. The band received recognition and award nominations from the largest recording industries on the planet including the Brit Awards, Canada’s Juno Awards, The Grammy’s and their native ARIA Awards where they were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.
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 You see the purity and magic of their music which Farriss was responsible for writing in their timeless hits like “Never Tear Us Apart”.   Andrew Farriss  really knows how to write great songs and has been doing it for a long time.  Farriss is as lyrically as solid as you would expect from a songwriter that has been so successful over a long period.  It takes an immense amout of talent to make a complete genre shift and perspective,  and you have to believe this must be a real labour of love and a project that he is genuinely  passionate about.

 

As Andrew put it, "I am really enjoying stepping out on my own with this album, I love writing songs and telling stories that hopefully resonate with people. I have not followed any trends or formulas creating these songs. What I have written and recorded is different. I like different, different is good."  What you will hear is a raw and honest Americana/Country music in this album which  is incredibly well written and put together.   I would be personally surprised if you didn't want to listen to Farriss' music  over and over again because it is so heavily focused on the storytelling as is the best Country music.

"I started writing songs as a teenager and I’ve written songs ever since. And so, I have accumulated many songs over the years, including Country style songs. I particularly like Outlaw style Country music and folk instruments combined.  I didn’t start out making an album, at first, I was re – recording older (and much newer) songs for demos to pitch to other artists. I was pleased with the songs but not with the quality of the recordings,"  Andrew explained. 

What you may not be aware of is that living on the land and running a working farm in Australia, Country music was never far from Andrew’s heart.  However, it was a chance trip up to the famed Apache Pass along the Mexican border that set the musical direction for Farriss' first solo album.   Andrew and his wife, Marlina, spent weeks horseback riding with good friends, cowboy wrangler Craig Lawson and his wife Tamara through the Chiricahua Mountains. The history of the area really captivated Andrew in an unexpected way, from the stories of the tumultuous fighting to the barren, harsh but beautiful landscape.

 

“I became quite enamored with it, it became very real to me. When I went back to Nashville and I continued writing, some people said, '"Let’s write a Country Pop hit’ and I didn’t want to do that. What I really wanted to do was write Outlaw Country that I just saw and the history of the area. We rode horses for six hours a day, six days in a row and had an education on the turbulent and emotive history of that area. The Apaches, Mexicans, Mexican Army,  US Cavalry,  Cowboys from nearby Tombstone, and the  Outlaws and Settlers who were all trying to survive and make lives for themselves."

 

The history of the area really captivated Andrew in a way he  wasn’t expecting, from the stories of the tumultuous fighting to the barren but beautiful landscape. “I became quite enamored with it, it all became very real to me,” he says. “When I went back to Nashville, what I really wanted to do was write about that outlaw country that I just saw and the history of the area.” " Andrew stated.  The concept of the outlaw and cowboy Country resonated with Andrew because it felt like home. He felt there was a definite commonality between what he had experienced in the United States, and what he experienced every day working on his inland Australian farm, kind of a  ‘where Australiana meets Americana’.

 

When you think about it, an Andrew Farriss Country album makes perfect sense.  After all he’s an Aussie, and his homeland has a particular love for Country music, sharing the same sense of the great wide-open plains and vast blue skies    Australia also has its own fair share of actual real-life cowboys and ranchers, and Andrew in fact is one himself, living with his wife, Marlina, on their own cattle ranch in Tamworth, New South Wales, an area famed for its annual Country music festival.

As a prolific songwriter, Andrew had more than 200 songs already penned,  when he decided to create the body of work that would result in this self-titled release.  Initially Andrew had no thoughts of recording an album, or even an EP.“I just wanted to make the songs sound as good as possible so that I could play them to people, I was more concerned about that than making a record.”

Finding the tracks that cohesively fit the album together in a Country feel was the next  natural progression. Many of the songs on the album were written years earlier, while some were penned during the recording process itself, to round out the vision that Andrew had for the release. They fit seamlessly together and all embody an authentic Country-Roots storytelling element that is so important. “One of the reasons many people have warmed to Country music, is that it isn’t just happy songs, it is the sad songs, it is the gritty subjects that some of genres of music won’t go near. That is something that attracts me as a songwriter. I don’t want to chase what train everyone else is on, I want to stay true to what I do as a songwriter, and keep a frontier sense of freedom. When I was putting the album together, I steered away from cliches, plus I wanted to put my own personality in it. If my album doesn’t sound like anyone else, then that is good.”

There are a lot of other authentic flavors through the album that  brings everything from  coastal sunset vibes, toe-tapping honky-tonk feels or just deep rootsy sounds that create a really fascinating and unique contemporary Outlaw Country result.   Traditional instruments walk hand in hand with rockier electric elements  in a way  that it is very rare to hear, creating an exciting sound that Farriss has composed.  Farriss stitches together modern technology to enhance his use of culturally original instruments giving his music a feeling of a different time.  Andrew Farriss has managed to produce his music and deliver it in a fashion that  one has to believe  is exactly as he envisioned as his passion shines through his whole album.
 

The Andrew Farriss' Country music sound is therefore very much an authentic one. You can feel it deep in the roots of these 12 tracks, proving he is perfectly  suited to the genre, with the deep, warm timbre of his vocals infusing heart and soul into his lyrics. He’s always been a great writer of fantastically infectious Rock, Pop, and Funk songs for INXS and many other major artists, but here he reveals his skill and passion  as a Country music and folk storyteller.  

No stranger to the ways of Nashville, Andrew has in fact been regularly writing songs in Music City for the past 10 years, which is one reason that this collection of songs sounds so authentic, effortless, and natural.  This solo album has been a long time coming to fruition.  At first Andrew started working in Nashville purely to use some of the excellent, world-beating recording facilities to work on his new songs. 

According to Andrew,  "During my international music career, I have written and co-written many songs as well as worked as a record producer with various artists over the years, but I was never a lead singer. It was during a writing session in Nashville (for the song on my album titled “ Starlight “ with a couple of good friends (Buck Johnson and James Dean Hicks) who suggested I sing the lead vocal on the song. That kind of surprised me at the time as they’re both much better singers than me!  Thanks to those guys I tracked more of my songs with a little more confidence and sang lead vocals."  

 

The more songs Farriss wrote, and the more he started singing them himself, finally coming to the  realization of just how much Country music suited him, and his voice.     During this time, his beautiful wife Marlina and family and friends encouraged him to seriously consider a solo Country music release.   In the end the Country genre just felt like a natural fit with his voice, and his  making of this  album with live instruments and this particular collection of songs is the solid-gold proof of that.   

What I really evident in  this album  is Andrew's mastery in  mixing all manner of traditional Americana, Country, Roots and Folk influences with influences that are uniquely Australian. The track With the Kelly Gang is a fine example of this. It’s a traditional outlaw yarn from an Australian perspective all about the life and times of Aussie bushranger and outlaw Ned Kelly. But as with so much of Farriss’ work, it also poses interesting questions, and comes at the subject matter from a fascinating angle, with the writer appearing to yearn to join the controversial Kelly gang. 

The cover and even vinyl for the album was important to be very visual as  Andrew really wanted the album artwork, photography, graphics and the vinyl itself to stand out     Farriss even to care to choose practical clothing of that era – US 19th Century history that was culturally similar in a way to Australian 19th Century History.  Vinyl itself was VERY important to Farriss for several reasons as he feels vinyl is physical, with its own art form and you own it if you buy it. Technology is not better simply because it’s new. 

Recognizing the world changing around him, Farriss reflects on how he is changing with it. Farriss' self-titled debut album takes fans around the world on a journey through nature, history, love, and cultural spirituality. Inspired by adventure and the unknown, Farriss put his heart and soul  into the creation of this album which is evident through his imaginative lyrics and stylistic melodies.

Andrew Farriss is a creative, versatile, award-winning artist embarking on an adventure to present his individual talents to the world.   Farriss now splits his time between his home country and Nashville, Tennessee making  frequent appearances at  the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville and his highly anticipated yearly appearance at Tamworth's Country Music Festival in Australia. Nothing can stop Farriss' creativity and this album showcases his already famous talents on so many different artistry levels, blessing Country music fans with his unique brand.   

                                                                               By Deborah Gibson