Local Sounds Magazine

The Whiskey Farm follow up their fine 2015 release Book of Matches (read a review here) with a seven-song collection integrating topical political subject matter. It’s almost surreal to think that these songs needed to be written in the first place but such is the state of things in the USA, where the light of enlightenment is willingly being extinguished day by day.

Songs of Resistance sounds like what might happen if Neil Young and Pete Seeger joined Wilco; with just enough electric guitar to keep the rock in folk/rock. Though the themes could come off as heavy, the Whiskey Farm achieve listenability through their use of sarcasm and their by-now-familiar whimsical style. Nothing that they say in these songs is surprising, nor are they things you probably haven’t already thought, they just needed to be said in song.

The sarcasm really hits its stride in “Flag Pin,” a bluesy, mocking takedown of phony patriotism aimed at the politician, the lobbyists and the gun-crazed populace. “Taking money from the left, taking money from the right / You’ve got a team of lawyers working every day and night / You’ve called every lobbyist that works up on the hill / and the NRA want you on the twenty dollar bill / Curlin’ up to sleep in the belly of the beast / If you don’t wake up tomorrow everyone can say at least you had a flag pin / You’ve got a really shiny flag pin / You won’t do nothing ‘bout this mess we’re in / But at least you’ve got a flag pin.” You can practically hear the sneer of singer/guitarist and chief songwriter Jason Horowitz as he delivers these songs, employing his knack for crafty wordplay. The verses are broken up by some gutsy lead guitar from Brett Wilfrid.

“Follow the Money” is similarly acerbic, although delivered with a bouncy, bluegrass feel. “Follow the money / And make the world go round / If the politics seems funny / or the logic is unsound / There’s just one thing to figure out / That’s whose pocket’s getting lined / Follow the money / You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.” The bridge is especially worth quoting: “If you want to run for office / You’ll need cash to throw around / But don’t worry ‘cause the lobbyists come through / And if you’re really lucky you’ll get voted out of town / Then you can be a lobbyist too.” It would be really funny if it weren’t so goddamn frightening, and you can dance to it.

The album kicks off with “You Are Welcome Here,” and some nice gospel-like harmonies. In the style of some of their previous popular songs, it’s a bouncy piece of folk aimed at immigrants and others currently being demoted to misfit status while quoting “America the Beautiful.”

Songs of Resistance closes with “The Future is a Long Time,” somewhat of a paradox of the rest of the album in its weary mournfulness: “We’ll be alright / We will get by / I can’t tell you how just yet / But I can tell you why / We’re not alone / We are strong / The future is a long time / And the fight has just begun.” It’s a nice vocal performance from Horowitz and a strong sentiment on which to end the recording.

 

The Isthmus

Few genres have a richer tradition of sticking it to the man than folk music. Even before Woody Guthrie first inked “This Machine Kills Fascists” onto his guitar, artists have been using the sparse, traditional instrumentation and dense lyricism of folk to draw attention to society’s ills. Now that Donald Trump occupies the Oval Office, there’s a lot to rail against.

Songs of Resistance, the fourth LP from the Madison folk-based quintet The Whiskey Farm, has a lot to say about the current state of affairs. Beginning with the heartfelt opener, “You Are Welcome Here,” the album is a relentless takedown of Trump’s brand of politics.

When Songs of Resistance is on, it’s really on. Two examples that work are “Flag Pin,” a cheeky deconstruction of corporate politics, and “Keep Me Down,” a hopeful rocker that calls to mind Tom Petty. These songs demonstrate that the band knows how to write political material without beating the listener over the head. Much of that can be credited to bandleader Jason Horowitz, whose boyishly earnest vocals anchor the subject matter in sincerity.

This is not music for cynics. The infectious positive vibe that surges through Songs of Resistance is admirable; there really aren’t a whole lot of songwriters with their finger on the political pulse who can find the bright side. And Horowitz does that time and time again on Songs of Resistance, mining the darkness of real life for songs that both uplift and inform. 

In Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen Brothers’ sprawling ode to folk in the sixties, the title character says at one point, “If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it’s a folk song.” The Whiskey Farm’s Songs of Resistance are very much new, taking on a political nightmare that we’re all still living. And like Woody Guthrie, Billy Bragg or anyone else who’s ever used folk music as a pulpit, Songs of Resistance will serve as a time capsule for a dark time in U.S. history.

Local Sounds Magazine

“Doc Holiday’s Last Christmas” is another cleverly-worded bit of historical storytelling, a medium in which Horowitz excels. Lyrics are Horowitz’s strong suit; there are few words wasted throughout Book of Matches, the songs flowing like poetry. The band doesn’t stray from their by-now-established formula and why would they? It’s clear that the Whiskey Farm are about as authentic as a musical group can be; the music is a clear reflection of who they are and that is a rare accomplishment. Like an old friend, you don’t want them to change, you just look forward to seeing them again. There is good reason the Whiskey Farm picked up a Madison Area Music Award for Ensemble Vocals in 2013, the harmonic blend is sensational... “What if I Don’t,” a biting take on shunning the system and breaking free of the preconceived notions of living the American way. Quite reminiscent of early Dylan and every bit as masterful lyrically.

StrictlyDiscs.com

‘From The Still’ is a perfect sophomore effort; it has everything that made ‘Middle of America’ great, and the band sounds like they entered the studio exuding even more confidence. Although they are all talented musicians, they are never competing for space or playing over each other.  You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer/more talented band that calls Madison home.

Dane101.com

The songs on From the Still definitely have that original sitting-around-the-campfire quality: upbeat and acoustic guitar driven, with lots of classic harmonies and instruments weaving in and out.

The Onion A.V.Club

Songs like “If I Were You” straddle the line between bluegrass and folk, blending technical wows with accessible songwriting for very pop-minded Americana

The Isthmus

Jason Horowitz has a knack for flavoring his country-pop songs with playful humor… His deftness at transitioning to songs about love and regret recalls Rhett Miller. Brett Wilfrid’s dexterous mandolin helps smooth the album’s changing moods. The backing vocal harmonies of Jen Wilfrid and Chantelle Thomas add sensuality to songs…  A big boost for the little music scene thriving here in the middle of America.

Red Line Roots Music Blog

Bordering on folk roots and bluegrass, ‘From the Still’ is an example of how music can be fused in a way that it is not definitely one style or the other. With so much bland and uninspiringly flat music in the genre, these guys are a especially welcome listen and addition to the Red Line.

Leicester Bangs Music Blog

The honest-to-goodness bluegrass-folk-pop songs that The Whiskey Farm play are like a breath of fresh mountain air.  Everything on ‘From the Still’ is underpinned with pop hooks, first-rate musicianship, and tight harmonies.

Local Sounds Magazine

Driven by acoustic instruments, strong melodies, and multiple harmonies, the music of The Whiskey Farm is distinctly Midwestern, melding pop, folk and bluegrass.

Popa's Tunes Music Blog

With strong melodies and multiple vocalists, the songs on “From the Still” feel spontaneous and robust with a warmth like old friends sharing a jug

The Americana Gazette

The Whiskey Farm is a band out of Madison, WI with great tunes, killer hooks, and fantastic harmonies.  They play toe-tapping back porch songs that will make you want to get up and dance.  A real treat to listen to… they are a top notch band and deserve great things in their career.  Middle of America has a permanent place in my collection.

Dane101.com

If it is true that people like to match music to their moods, then the Whiskey Farm’s Middle of America, is going to be catalogued under my list of “happy” music. As I sit writing this review, the sun is shining on a 70+ degree April day, the daffodils on my coffee table are in full bloom, and it is impossible not to be in a good mood as I listen to Middle of America.

The Isthmus

The Whiskey Farm specializes in homegrown folk and bluegrass, which they often crossbreed with roots rock.

Simply Folk

Strong songs and great production.

Madison Area Music Association

Winner of the 2012 award for Best Folk/Americana Song – ‘If I Were You’ – and the 2013 award for Ensemble Vocals

The Daily Cardinal

The band is not easily pigeonholed into a category.  There are songs from all over the music spectrum…that can only be classified within the broad genre of Americana.

The Troubador's Road

The Whiskey Farm is growing something special, and will be one to continue to follow as they travel down the troubadour’s road.