Farm To Table (4AD)
In a time when ‘genre-less’ music seems to be thriving (see numerous nebulously named Spotify playlists that the algorithm can’t adequately define), Bartees Strange is a shapeshifter with genuine grit, girth and emotionality. There’s nothing experimental for experimentalism’s sake on his second album Farm To Table; rather, just the sheer pleasure of an artist intrepidly gliding through various shapes and forms, all of which he wears as though he were born into them.
As the title indicates, there’s a sense of getting back to one’s roots on this follow-up to debut Live Forever and EP Say Goodbye To Pretty Boy, both of which earned him celeb fans as varied (apparently) as Hayley Williams, Ryan Reynolds and Phoebe Bridgers. This status, from his previous career as environmental advisor to the Obama administration, leaves Strange in a reflective mood: lamenting “I was tryna be something wretched / Something I saw on TV” on Wretched, giddily soaring into the stratosphere on Cosigns: “I keep consuming, I can’t give it up / Hungry as ever, it’s never enough”.
As a dialogue between himself and his audience about origins and stardom, it’s an insightful autobiography – but as a pure piece of music, it’s also easy to meditatively drift away into Strange’s lush soundscapes again and again.
words HANNAH COLLINS
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