“I’ve busted my ass a lot and fell and had to get back up. I’ve made bad decisions and learned from them. I’ve had good moments and bad moments, and bad break-ups—been cheated on—and had good relationships, drank too much, paid for it the next day, you know? Been evicted from apartment complexes—that was when I first moved to Nashville and I didn’t have a dime.” That’s 31-year-old country singer Tyler Farr describing, in his characteristic growl, how to be a songwriter on the eve of his sophomore release, Suffer in Peace (out now).
“All of that breeds song ideas,” Farr continued. “And I’m not telling everybody to go out there and get strung out on heroin and just go nuts, but you have to live as much as you can, otherwise you won’t have any stories to tell that no one’s already told.”
Peace, over its 11 tracks, has plenty to tell. There’s less of the jukebox stompers that shaped his 2013 debut, Redneck Crazy, but replacing those tracks is further proof that Farr is country’s king of heartbreak, “Not everybody can be a ray of sunshine, or it would be a boring, boring world,” he says with a laugh. “But we are singing country music. If you listen to a Hank Williams record from back in the day there’s a lot of sad there.”
There is also, perhaps relatedly, more of Farr on the record. ”You know the first album, you’re always a little timid—your first record deal, first album—you’re just happy to finally put food on the table. On this one, we’d had a little bit of success, so I felt more relaxed doing it. I felt like I knew myself better and who I was as an artist.”
The album’s lead and still-chart-climbing single, “A Guy Walks Into a Bar” (written by Melissa Peirce, Jonathan Singleton, and Brad Tursi), has a chorus of barroom heartache as well worn as your local joint’s corner booth. “A guy walks into a bar / Orders a drink, sees a girl that catches his eye / Asks her if she wants another, they fall for each other and end up lovers / They laugh, cry, hold on tight and make it work for a little while / Then one night her taillights fade out into the dark / And a guy walks into a bar.”
The title track is a ballad in search of seclusion: a “cabin in the hills, in the middle of nowhereville,” where the singer—or song’s lead character—can hang up his heart a while. It along with “I Don’t Even Want This Beer” (about reluctantly drowning sorrows in the bottom of a barrel) and “Withdrawals” (about losing the high of your former lover), make you wonder where Farr has been. (In response, he says, “I don’t date,” making air quotes around “date”—”I’ve only been in a few serious relationships.”)