Interview: Josh Farrow

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Josh Farrow was a typical 10 year old kid, if “typical” includes learning how to play The Clash on the guitar and listening to punk rock on the regular. “As a kid, it makes sense to gravitate towards punk—it’s easy to play, super easy to listen to, usually just three chords. When you slow it down, though, it’s pretty much basic folk music,” Farrow says of the musical gateway drug to his chosen realm. “All of a sudden, I discovered Bob Dylan, and it sounded so familiar to me already. His voice isn’t one that everyone can listen to, it’s brash, and he’s playing those three chords. Then folk turned me onto country.”

Farrow eventually made his way to Nashville—but not for music. “I moved to follow my future wife, who I met on vacation in Florida,” he recalls. “I was living in Chicago and she was in school at Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro, and four months later, I moved in with her. I was a punk veteran, but when I moved here, I started writing more, and the whole Southern thing snuck into my writing style. I was surrounded by so many amazing musicians, I never thought doing this would have been a reality, but here I am.”

However, a stint on the hit television show “The Voice” gave Farrow a front row seat to the undesirable side of the industry, a crash course that nearly ruined his desire to pursue music; “I spent a few months just messing around afterwards, I couldn’t even write,” he recalls. “Finally, I realized that I could choose not to be a part of that world and still follow my dream.”

With a renewed sense of self and the confidence to retain his independence, Farrow blazed his own trail, and will release his Trouble Walks With Me, his solo debut, on Friday, October 28th. “I had label interest for this album, but I decided to release it myself,” he adds. “I didn’t want anyone to try to make me into something that I’m not.”

The album was produced by Dexter Green, who Farrow met by chance several years ago during his time as a bartender at a Nashville pizza joint. ”I was new to town and was trying to get to know people; I found out he produced a friend’s album, and I convinced him to come out to one of my first shows in town, and then I convinced him to record two songs with me,” he says with a laugh. “It progressed from there and ended up as a full album.” As the need for contributing players and vocalists arose during ht recording process, Green called upon his extensive catalog of Nashville industry friends—fixtures like Rebecca Lynn Howard, Ruby Amanfu, and The McCrary Sisters—to join Farrow in the studio.

“We took our time on the album, there are soul-inspired songs, country-tinged songs, dark Americana…some of my favorite songs on the record are inspired by Allen Toussaint’s key-driven New Orleans soul, and it all works together. I can like to play all kinds of music, and I can do it all on the same album if I want to, who says I can’t?” he asks with a laugh. “It’s what’s in my soul.”

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Susan Hubbard

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