Live Review: Justin Farren at Mid-City Music Lounge

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Material: Justin Farren’s small town, central California roots are clearly evident in his lyrics. He writes fun songs about growing up, jobs, family, life as a musician and several songs about awkward encounters with ex-girlfriends. “Lewis and Clark,” an older song by Farren, is a narrative about his personal vision of adventure while on the road in the Pacific Northwest.

While Farren’s lyrical themes may be familiar, his folk-and pop-infused riffs are anything but. “American Singles,” a song about the opposition between wisdom and youth, is where his ability to create unique and dissonant music comes alive.

Musicianship: Farren’s guitar work is a medley of folk and indie-pop. He creates tension by juxtaposing delicate finger-picking and aggressive chords. Less can be said about his vocals. Though Farren’s vocal texture may fit the folk sound, his voice remains underdeveloped. He demonstrates control and projection at high volumes, but encounters pitch discrepancies at lower volumes.

Performance: Farren’s stage presence, his charm, is where he thrives. Performing barefoot, he creates a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. Farren’s casual interactions with the audience elicit laughter from his comedic stories and clever lyrics.

This is an artist who knows how to build strong connections with his audience by taking requests, making the experience that much more intimate. He kept his listeners’ attention by performing new, as-yet-untitled material, and this helped to make the show varied, exciting and spontaneous.

Justin Farren is a remarkably relatable songwriter with a special gift for quirky lyrics based on real-life experiences. He is a pleasant listen and an exceptional guitarist, but his vocals could be stronger. Some basic voice coaching would help to increase his range and free this promising performer from the limits of his persistent monotone.

The Players: Justin Farren, guitar, vocals.
Venue: Mid-City Music Lounge
City: Los Angeles, CA
Web: justinfarren.com