Artist Review: Drayton Farley Has a Different Idea of the American Dream
Updated: Jun 20, 2022
By Emma Duncan--Eagle Assistant Editor
In such a short time, Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen, and more recently Cody Johnson and Riley Green, have become household names to country music lovers. They started from nothing, but took their talent and spread it nationwide. Whether or not some of these artists deserve their fame is a whole different story, but to me, there is one artist who undoubtedly deserves to be heard: Drayton Farley.
“Drayton Farley is a new name to us but his voice caught our ear right off the bat. The lyrics fell into place pretty immediately too. Never over-forced, he balances the poetry and direct political commentary with a tasteful touch of melancholic country,” Doubtful Sounds summarized on Post to Wire.
Farley describes himself as a country artist, but to me and other reporters alike, he seems to share the same folk sounds as Zach Bryan, while having a voice that reminds many of Tyler Childers. All three of these artists have gone through hardships, which makes them even more vulnerable and relatable singers.
“An Alabama native, Farley has experienced his share of sadness, which, as we all know, is great fodder for songwriting: A well-paying job with the railroad that left him depressed and alone in cities far from his new bride, a childhood spent growing up in a dying town. With experiences like these, you can’t help but listen to the honesty and heartache in his words,” Melissa Payne wrote in an article for The Amp.
Where these singers differ, though, is in their popularity. At first glance, it appears Farley is just getting started, as he only has about 500 subscribers on YouTube, but he’s actually been in the world of music since 2018 when he released his debut single “No Good Reason”.
Humble and quiet, yet moving and powerful, “No Good Reason” somehow encapsulates all of this as Farley tells the story of people just trying to stay afloat. No matter how hard they try, life has brought them down for as long as they can remember, leaving them with “no good reason at all” to keep fighting.
Since that tear-jerking ballad, Farley has released two more singles: “American Dream” and “Trouble in the Pines”, and two albums: Hargrove & Sweet Southern Sadness - The Early Extended Plays and A Hard up Life.
“Fourteen songs cover a range of tough subjects like addiction, a life you can’t escape from, dead-end jobs and poverty, but it’s not all sad songs,” Payne explained about A Hard up Life. “There are songs like ‘Atmosphere’ and ‘Dear, Haven’ that even out the rest of the record with their sweet undertones.”
Like Payne said, this album has a mostly somber sound, but that isn't all Farley has to offer. While there are some sweeter songs throughout, I feel that if A Hard up Life featured just a couple more tracks like this, his album would be an even bigger hit. He could reach a greater audience and allow listeners to experience reflection and gratitude.
Out of all fourteen tracks, “American Dream” made the biggest impact, becoming Farley's most popular song to date.
Similar to “No Good Reason”, “American Dream” shows that this life isn’t always perfect, especially when Farley sings “it’s a hard up kind of life, when paying your dues don’t get you by, you’re working all week to make some overtime to pay, for this… American dream” in the chorus.
This song is strong. With lyrics like those, a voice like Farley’s, and guitar instrumentals which make it impossible to sit still, there’s no way this song wasn’t going to become a hit.
But will “American Dream” be Farley’s only song to make it big? Or will this artist be played on the radio someday?
These days, the majority of people are looking for a more upbeat, pop-country sound, and that's just not what Farley represents. He even has a song called "Keep Country Music Sad", which further represents his standpoint on what country music is to him. Farley could always turn to what some singers are doing recently, being changing his sound to adapt to what's greater desired, but he's focusing on making music for him and those like him.
To find this audience, Farley could branch out with where he plays shows; however, he can't put in all the work. If we never give Drayton Farley a chance to be heard, however, he’ll stay a hidden gem, and talent like this has no good reason to be pushed to the side.