Much likened to the soft cooing of Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam, Geoff Farina has spent years collaborating with artists, from the 12 years he spent fronting Boston’s Karate, to his most recent and current band “Glorytellers”. As a Chicago native, he started out 15 years ago, playing local venues and climbing his way to much-needed appreciation.
Between teaching music history at DePaul University and touring, Farina managed to release his latest solo-album, The Wishes of the Dead, a well-composed narrative of a year he spent living in a small town in Maine.
Geoff Farina knows how to play the guitar, that much we know. With his ability to pick at strings so effortlessly- his minimalism could easily be interpreted as laziness or apathy. But it is hard to distinguish what Farinas style represents at this point. And while the album begins with a lively, emphatic open with the track ‘Prick Up Your Ears’ (rest assured no pun intended) it loses steam over time, finally collapsing from exhaustion. Monotonous and cyclical the album is nearly bare-boned, stripped of anything except his tenor vocals and acoustic guitar riffs. A few fleeting melodies drift in and out of the album, but lack the permanence necessary to embed itself in your memory.
Although, what is important to remember while listening to The Wishes Of The Dead, is that it is a memoir- a retelling of Farinas times spent over the course of a year. The lyrics is what are key in understanding the theme of the album- or purpose- in other words, listen intently to the words without having any expectations of outstanding hooks that just appear out of nowhere.
This album is in every sense of the word, slow moving, a sleepy retelling of time spent in a remote area. But this pre-conceived lack of ambition is a misconception. Farina has always had a very laid-back, nearly apathetic sound, and that is what has given him his creditability in the music industry.
Songs of finger-picking and slightly tweaked monotony can make any listener immediately bored, wondering when the hook will come in and save the song—and oftentimes it does not. This album if nothing else is a teaser, and is intentionally reaching out to be heard as-is—in the flat affect and anticlimactic apathy. It is almost like a book on tape that is accompanied by very minimal guitar. It is a concept album meant for a specific audience: those who are Farina fans and those who like to be read bedtime stories with a soft melody to carry them off to slumber. Geoff Farina – The Wishes of the Dead tracklist:
- “Prick Up Your Ears”
- “Hammer and Spade”
- “Scotch Snaps”
- “Make the Show”
- “The Dove and the Lamb”
Geoff will be performing Fridays 6-8PM in April and May: solo guitar @ The Whislter in Chicago’s Logan Square.