Buy and stream the album here.
The CD-Release for The Farmhouse Sessions will take place at the High Noon Saloon on Saturday, March 19th. Josh Harty will also celebrate the release of his excellent new album, Holding On (read the review here). Sarah Lou Richards, a Wisconsin native now in Nashville will also appear. The show is part of BandSwap, an effort supported by the City of Madison and overseen by the Madison Arts Commission.
Late in 2015 Derek Remnarace gathered the members of his new band in a newly converted farmhouse in Wonewoc to capture their energy in a live recording. Hence the title of this debut album, ten original Remnarace songs that meld acoustic roots and blues with soulful lyrics delivered in heartfelt fashion. Co-producer and engineer Luke Jorgensen played a big part in accomplishing what the band set out to do, capturing some pretty magical moments. The album a rich sound tapestry, making the most out of less in terms of instrumentation.
At the core are Remnarace’s vocals, a naturally strained voice that drips with emotion. He’s flanked by Leah Rachuj on backups to great effect. Rachuj also plays violin, another central element that plays foil to Remnarace’s acoustic guitars. The band also gets an extra boost from additional violin and guitars courtesy of Kenny Leiser.
The album kicks off on a bright note with “Carolina,” a bouncy tune with a bluegrass sensibility and a killer acoustic guitar solo. There are a few other bright spots, “Shake the Blues Away” and “Way Back When,” but Remnarace’s writing is most effective when he goes deep and there are some heavy, beautiful mid-tempo and slower ballads on The Farmhouse Sessions. “Hurricane Heart” should be a single and is perfect for radio play. It’s a song of heartbreak but with an uplifting melody that will stick in your head. If you want real heartbreak, check out the gorgeous immediacy of “You Know You Are.” “I left you in a bottle at the bar / With every step seems like everything’s getting harder / And I know you’d like to think it won’t leave a scar / But oh, you know that you are.”
Another stunning track is “Kaya’s Song,” where Remnarace sounds like “Snow in San Anselmo”-era Van Morrision. Wrenching. There’s even more to read into on the album’s closing track, “In My Eyes.” Whatever the subject matter, there is some serious pain being communicated here. It’s a magnificent statement and the arrangement is unconventional.
Not every note is perfect, not every lyric is pitch-perfect, but it’s the raw emotion and honesty that makes The Farmhouse Sessions a very strong debut from seasoned players who’ve spent a lot of time developing through various bands to arrive at this point. Remnarace’s development as a songwriter is clear and his future is bright. At this writing the band are at SxSW and it wouldn’t be a bit surprising if they came back with some kind of deal or opportunity. Catch them while you can at this level.