Coffee and Laundry by John Paulson
Coffee and Laundry
Martin Farrell Jr’s new album, Coffee and Laundry, isn’t so much a record as it is a time machine. But whereas most artists would be content to go back to the past and just observe or mimic their heroes, Ferrell instead drags the ghosts of places like Nashville, Austin and even Appalachia, into present day. He uses their sound like a backing band that he is clearly in control of, forcing them to conform and keep time with his reimagined version of the sonic wares they used to peddle many years ago. He doesn’t rely on his influences to carry his record though he doesn’t hide from them either.
What’s remarkable to me are the numerous hints of different decades that can be heard on this album. It’s obvious that Farrell draws inspiration from a deep knowledge of the history of country western, bluegrass, folk and the many branches that they have sprouted. He’s obviously comfortable letting himself drift between the genres and generations, feeling no obligation to anchor himself in the harbor of any one sound. It’s not hard to imagine Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl welcoming Ferrell to the stage of The Grand Ole Opry to join them for a song like “Mary Knows” or “Plastic Barn”. Fast forward a decade or two and you can almost hear Townes Van Zandt and Blaze Foley sitting in the back of a Texas honkytonk with Farrell after closing time, trading verses and melodies for “Horses” while the bar staff puts chairs on tables and mops the spilled PBR off the floor. On “Dustbowl 1933” I can close my eyes and hear echoes of legendary Kansas songwriter Kirk Rundstrom during his early 00’s Same Ugly Town era.
It should also be mentioned that the record showcases Farrell’s growth and progression as both a songwriter and a producer. Overall, this album is a blender full of earnestness, storytelling and catchy tunes (not that those are mutually exclusive by any means) that will no doubt turn into requests once live shows resume.