Dan O’Farrell and the Difference Engine – Richard Scarry Lied to Me

Album Review | Gare du Nord/Humphry | Review by Allan Wilkinson

It’s good to hear an opener like “Here it Comes”, which pays homage to the Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown”, not just in its instantly recognisable guitar riff, but also in the memorable ‘here it comes’ chorus build; there’s nothing quite like a slice of mid-Sixties Stones to express immediacy and directness.  The Southampton-based trio of Rick Foot, Chris Walsh and former Accrington Stanley frontman Dan O’Farrell serve up their third helping with over a dozen O’Farrell originals, wrapped in a sleeve that echoes both Lennon’s Sometime in New York City and Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick, oh and something else by Roxette, a broadsheet featuring the album title as a scandalous headline.  

Who is Richard Scarry anyway?  An American children’s author of over 300 books, mentioned in passing along with a multitude of other things that Dan is afraid of on “I Am Afraid”, such as Alzheimer’s, Fascism, spiders and voices that draw him to the edge.  There’s a sense of time ticking away in some of these songs, certainly in “Tempus Fugitive”, together with a sense of struggling through, where we need look no further than “Hedgehog”; the curling up in a ball analogy not lost on anyone in the current crisis.  If some of this appears dark, then light is very much at the end of the tunnel on both “In the Sun” and “Slow Magic” both of which provide the album with a glimmer of hope, radio friendly REM styled pop tunes to get us through, the latter complete with Nancy Tomkins’ sunny flittering flute throughout.  There’s a lot to go at here, with thoughtful lyricism and highly melodic tunes to match. Love it.