The nine tracks on The Farmacology Sessions showcase the intertwining harmonies and sharp songwriting that mark the work of New American Farmers. This Americana music duo of Paul Knowles and Nicole Storto have been crafting songs together for 10 years—many years as the project, “Mars Arizona” before changing their name to New American Farmers in 2012. Their first album as New American Farmers, Brand New Day was well-received and led a No Depression reviewer to rave, “At times, they sound like a current day reincarnation of Gram and Emmylou, what with their smooth harmonies and gilded sentiments.” The Farmacology Sessions is their 2nd album as New American Farmers.
The Farmacology Sessions was a project that happened organically. “We hadn’t really planned on doing another record in 2014, but the songs just started flowing.” Said Knowles. “We had the opportunity for some time in a great studio (Opus Sound), so we started recording with Kevin T. White (bass player for Chuck Prophet’s Mission Express), and Tony Sales. This led to a couple of sessions with Chuck Prophet joining in on guitar. He was in between projects and was hungry to get into the studio and play with a band. We recorded one of the tracks live and he hinted that he wouldn’t mind coming back for another session. So, we are very fortunate to have his embellishment on the new record.”
The result is a late 60’s early 70’s influenced folk rock album. “It stretches out more,” said Knowles, “it takes more chances and we had a blast doing it.” The Farmer’s vocal style is very unique in that Knowles and Storto are able to sing each other’s harmonies and switch parts throughout the songs. The songwriting is insightful and the arrangements are nice and open. Chuck Prophet lends his talents for the upbeat and jubilant song “Aiming for the Daylight” which captures the Farmer’s signature Americana groove. “Chuck had the perfect riff for this song the moment he had his telecaster unpacked,” said Knowles. Prophet also adds his trademark sound to the song, “Breathe In, Breathe Out”, a pep talk for dealing with life’s every day tribulations, as well as with musicians and recording artists dealing with the loss of income from their efforts. It’s a direct nudge across the bow of the current streaming music model.
Another guest player on the record is Alarm drummer, Nigel Phillips. Knowles met him when he was in a band that opened for The Alarm in the 80’s. He then re-connected with Nigel through his bass player Kevin, who met Nigel just by chance as he was walking down the street with his bass bag. That turned into Nigel doing some live shows with the Farmers and he went on to record a cover of The Alarm song, “Rain In The Summertime” forThe Farmacology Sessions. “We thought that particular song was farmer friendly and would strike a chord with a lot of Californians,” said Knowles.
A cover of The Monkees “Door Into Summer” gets a psychedelic country makeover from Knowles and Storto, while “Down At The Pharmacy” acknowledges the greed of big Pharma, with a tune that suggests Lennon and McCartney backed by a pedal steel drenched country band. “We’ve had fun with that one,” said Knowles, “Meshing pedal steel with a Lonely Hearts Club Band overtone.”
Knowles and Storto continue to showcase their growth as songwriters intent on celebrating the essence of the American experience. “We’re about the songs,” Knowles claims. “We plant them wherever we can. Maybe they’ll grow, maybe they won’t, but we’re not going to throw in a bunch of trendy additives to convince you that what we do has value. If you want to drop in and soak up the vibe, you’re more than welcome.”
New American Farmers will be playing live in the Bay area and celebrating their record release at The Great American Music Hall on Friday, September 5th 8pm
For those not in the Bay Area, you can check out the track, “Aiming For The Daylight” exclusively through Elmore Magazine: http://bit.ly/1swLH3q
PLAYERS: Nicole Storto: Vocals, guitar///Paul Knowles: Vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, 2nd lead guitar on “The Garden”, B3 organ, REV and Sitar///Kevin T. White: Electric bass, standup bass///Dave Zirbel: Pedal steel, lap steel, lead guitar on “The Garden” ///Tony Sales:Drums///GUESTS: Chuck Prophet: Lead and rhythm guitars on “Aiming For The Daylight”, Fender VI lead guitar on “Breathe In, Breathe Out”///Nigel “Twist” Phillips from The Alarm: Drums on “Rain In The Summertime” (an Alarm cover)/// Dave Walker: Lead guitars on “Rain In The Summertime”///Howie Cockrill: Mandolin, fiddle and violins on “Down At The Pharmacy” and “Carrot and Stick”