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Out of San Francisco comes singer/ songwriter/ pop pianist Devin Farney. His latest album ‘Ventriloquism’ features 11 original tracks with a nod to the stylings of Beatles-era pop, meanwhile exploring a fresh musical palate that balances piano, acoustic guitar, and synths under insightful melodic webs.

Primarily focusing on composition, Farney has had works commissioned and premiered in the United States, France, and Japan, but is a pianist versed in various styles. He works also as a music arranger and editor who has worked with composers such as Terry Riley, Glen Roven, Arthur Kampela. Farney performed at the 2008 Fresno New Music Festival and received honorable mentions from the likes of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Composer Institute (2007 and 2008), the ZMF New Music For Marimba Competition (2008), and the ANALOG Iron Composer Competition (2009). While Farney’s piano studies have included a wide scope of classical composers, he is a skilled jazz and rock/pop pianist who has vast experience playing group and solo performances.

‘Ventriloquism’ begins with a heavy dose of melodic charm in “Can Anyone Hear Me,” a pop groove tune featuring wistful backup vocals and bell tings along with piano.  Once the listener’s attention is captured, Farney presents “Real Is Good Enough,” a contradictory statement given the song’s occasional muffled vocals and dreamy quality.

The title track then enters, reminiscent of Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.”  This track oozes sadness, the rhythm trudging along as aching vocals soar, saying, “He asks me if I want to die.  It wasn’t like I didn’t try.”  Farney’s soothing vocals croon through folksy pop rhythms while singing the realist statement, “When I fall asleep, I dream I’m awake again.”

Ventriloquism includes a sleepy lighthearted ode to normalcy in “Extra Ordinary.”  Farney then offsets drowsiness as electronic overtones accompany feedback squeals in the dark and heavy “Unholy Ghost.”  The album might have done well to include this song in a series of heavier tracks, yet the album returns to the melancholy, causing “Unholy Ghost” to feel solitary and misplaced, which is unfortunate since it stands out as one of the most riveting tracks.

Less captivating tracks include the quirky tinker-chiming boogeyman ballad, “Everygreen”, the drawn-out  cicada-siren song, “What’s That”, and the too-cute-for-its-title tune, “Grievances.”

‘Ventriloquism’ ends on a melancholy note.  Lonesome guitar plucking is soon joined by bell tings and piano as the lyrics say, “Leave me alone or take me home; my body’s on the ice.”  This final song develops nicely with a passing-over  atmosphere made up of keyboard sequences, synth vibes, and industrial blasts.  Overall, ‘Ventriloquism’ is a lovely and soothing compilation of melodies.

Rating: 3/5


Album now available on CD baby.