'...enormously talented singer-songwriter...his guitar work really makes you sit up and take notice...' Kalamazoo Gazette 'Terry Farmer is certainly in the folk music business to stay. He presents his music with a winning confidence. The audience at Caffé Lena very much enjoyed his debut.' Sarah Craig, Manager, Caffè Lena Terry Farmer is emerging as a singular and unique voice in the acoustic music world. His music is a fusion of folk, classical guitar and rock & roll wrapped in a spiritual heart. Farmer is a player in the national and Michigan music scene. Since the mid-eighties his career as a band leader and songwriter has taken him to the four corners of the country. Recently, he spent five years studying classical guitar at the University of Denver and the Cleveland Institute of Music. Terry returns to his roots with River Runs Free, a solo CD released on Terradactyl Records in 2000. Since the release of River Runs Free, Terry has performed at the 2001 Kerrville Folk Festival as a New Folk Finalist, appeared on KUNI's Live from Studio One in Cedar Falls, opened for diverse artists such as Claudia Schmidt, Suzanne McDermott, Pat MacDonald, and SONiA of Disappear Fear. He has also opened up for Gaelic Storm, Over the Rhine and Leftover Salmon. Review of Terry Farmer (2003) I have been listening to the songs on Terry Farmer's latest CD for some time now and continue to be impressed by the diversity and depth of this extraordinary collection of songs. The artistry of these songs lies in their ability to express a variety of moods through means that are at once unique and personal and yet resonate deeply with the sensitive listener. The song 'Sole,' for example, begins with a series of impressionistic images: 'Hummingbird sipping nectar / Flashing pink burning sky / willing touch spreading fire / Killing rush tender tired.' These images, when set to the unique stylings of Farmer's voice and guitar, serve to create a mood that is at once familiar and strange. We are moved, both intellectually and emotionally, but aren't sure how. This is how music and poetry, at their finest, work. The payoff is an authentic musical experience: our sense of things is heightened, and thus our world. Other songs, while no less lyrically innovative, are more immediately familiar but draw their power from taking the familiar and re-working it in subtle and moving ways. One of the most powerful songs on the CD, 'Whiskey Through My Teeth,' is just such a song. The opening chorus immediately invites the listener in through a plaintive vocal that references the familiar experience of loss and loneliness: 'My love is gone for the winter / My love is gone to Paris France / She knows I won't soon forget her / Staring at my pillow in longing trance.' Farmer quickly re-works the experience of lost love into something entirely new, however. Before we know it we are brought into the history of a soul-one with it's own particular data. Rather than serving to put the listener off, however, this transition from the general to the particular deepens the song. Farmer, in such songs as these, demonstrates an uncanny knack for painting pictures that reveal us to ourselves, even as they are apparently about something deeply personal and idiosyncratic. Even the more playful songs on the CD, such as 'Nothing Wild,' have their own rich and peculiar vibe. Farmer sings the song with a kind of joyful abandon, as if wanting to enact the principle he expresses in the song-'Life is just a drag when there's nothing wild.' 'Misty Morning,' likewise, is filled with a kind of joi de vivre, using mystic earthy images to express the joy of nature and of life. 'Two Italian Brothers,' which might at first be read as an homage to one of Dylan's story-songs, likewise has a unique life all of it's own. The quirky images and barely menacing chorus of 'I see what you mean / when I see it from the side' draw us into a kind of underworld where nothing is quite as it seems; where the senses are disordered a la Rimbaud and our sense of reality accordingly reconfigured. We look to Farmer in such songs as these as a guide whose goal is to bring us through the strange if only to see more clearly the familiar. Farmer, with our approval, affords himself one moment of sheer decadent bliss on the CD in the song 'Timothy Leary.' At once a lament for the decline of sixties culture, which was vitally preserved until only recently by followers of the Grateful Dead, and on the other hand a panegyric to those artists who have most profoundly influenced Farmer's own music, the song delightfully offsets the more meditational songs on the CD. The songs on this CD, while always lyrically and musically innovative, always gesture toward a world which we share, even if it is a world we seldom recognize. Farmer's music can have the effect, indeed, of re-introducing us to a world that we have forgotten how to see. This, perhaps, is the message that underlies 'The Roswell Incident,' the only song on the CD not written by Farmer but which he completely makes his own through the wonderful reading he gives to the song. The song chronicles the famous UFO sightings near Roswell, New Mexico in July, 1947. While the song is most immediately about aliens, then, it is perhaps also about learning to recognize and accept aspects of reality that we close ourselves off to for various reasons. The UFO's of the song become a metaphor for those things in our lives which we reject, usually due to a kind of unquestioned fear. Each of the songs on this remarkable CD serve to chant away this fear, to draw us back into a world where life becomes something rich and full of meaning. Perhaps the greatest gift that Farmer bestows upon the listener, and what makes his work so wonderfully unique, is his fluency with that borderline between dream and reality, a realm which these songs identify as being our true home. Life, lived at this level and through these songs, is something vibrant and sad, something to embrace and reflect upon, something to curl up into. There are few singers working today who have such important lessons to teach and experiences to share. Luke Schlueter.