Nashville native Mike Farris returns to his soul and R&B Roots with his new album, SILVER & STONE, out today on Compass Records. Coming off of an incredible GRAMMY win for 2015’s SHINE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE (Best Roots Gospel album), Farris has the energy and conviction of a man saved, a stack of anecdotes and life experiences that would make most people’s heads spin, and a stunning vocal delivery reminiscent of Sam Cooke or Otis Redding.
While this is a secular album, Farris still takes us to church on these 12 engaging tracks, including a cover of Bill Withers’ “Hope She’ll be Happier.” The title refers to his wife, Julie’s wedding ring, and the album is a celebration of their 23 years of marriage and her steadfastness in sticking by him through his years struggling with addiction and alcoholism (he’s been clean for seven years).
Recorded at the legendary HIllbilly Central studio in Nashville, TN, the album’s warm, laid-back vibe is reminiscent of the classic STAX Records. Farris is aided by a studio band that includes “Memphis Boy” Gene Chrisman (Dusty Springfield, Elvis Presley, Dan Auerbach), who shared drum duties with Derrek Phillips (Robben Ford, Hank Williams Jr.). Produced by Compass Records co-owner Garry West, the album also features keyboardists Reese Wynans (Joe Bonamassa, Double Trouble) and long-time Farris collaborator Paul Brown (Waterboys, Ann Peebles), guitarists Doug Lancio (Patty Griffin, John Hiatt), Rob McNelly (Delbert McClinton) and George Marinelli (Bonnie Raitt) with Steve Mackey (Wallflowers, Delbert McClinton) and producer West splitting bass duties.
Farris is quick to credit the musicians in the band for putting their modern spin on classic grooves and progressions. The band was given just enough structure so they could add their own flavor. Among the album’s many standout moments is Joe Bonamassa’s searing solo on “Movin’ Me” (Bonamassa became a fan and friend while opening for Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies in the 90’s).
Farris and his band will be performing at AmericanaFest the week of September 10 followed by a West Coast US tour (scroll down for dates).