Goodnight, Texas: Uncle John Farquhar

Goodnight, Texas is the transcontinental project of Patrick Dyer Wolf and Avi Vinocur, two travelers who, according to the band’s Facebook page, took to “learning each other’s melodies” upon meeting each other in San Francisco. Their name was not picked just to sound inherently country, as you may think—Goodnight, TX is actually a ghost town that marks the halfway point between Wolf and Vinocur’s respective hometowns of Chapel Hill, NC and San Francisco. However, the fact that Wolf and Vinocur aren’t from the Corn Belt doesn’t take away from Goodnight, Texas’ decidedly folksy persona; it exudes from their music, lyrics and the faded-looking cover of Uncle John Farquhar, Goodnight, Texas’ sophomore album.

The front of the record depicts a scrapbook page featuring a Civil War-era gentleman from the 1800s; on the back, a slew of song titles that sound like cuts from the soundtrack of an Oklahoma! sequel, including jangly album opener “Hayride” and “Ballad Of A Young Fair Lady.” Though it can all get overly-kitschy at some points—one standout lyric from the album’s title song goes, “50 years up in that mill/I nearly killed myself and still/I ain’t go no dollar bill to my name”—Uncle John Farquhar is still enjoyable and entertaining. It has the feel of one of those Thanksgiving dinners where grandpa starts on a roll about the old days and manages to get the whole family raptly listening; each song tells a story, even when there aren’t any lyrics, and makes you feel happily nostalgic most of the time (exception: somber Civil War ballad “Dearest Sarah”).

Fun and charming, Uncle John Farquhar is an excellent follow-up record, even if it doesn’t tell me as much about Goodnight, Texas as their debut, A Long Life Of Living, did. Hopefully, Goodnight, Texas’ next album explores a little more of themselves—I like the stories they’re telling, but there’s a very slim audience today that can relate to working in saw mills and moonshining.

In A Hyphenated Word: Country-Western