Family bands have been a long standing tradition within bluegrass music. From acts such as the Cherryholmes and the Cox Family among scores of others, it’s not uncommon for these family bands to possess tight vocal harmonies and strong musicianship. The Farnum Family from Galena, MO is no exception. The group’s latest release, Another Season’s Promise, not only displays both of these qualities, but also gives us a set of material with great variety.
Along with father Norm on banjo and mother Tricia on piano and pennywhistle, the Farnum Family band also consists of older son Benjamin on guitar and mandolin, daughters Hannah and Maggie on fiddle and bass respectively, and youngest son Matthew on mandolin. All share in vocal duties throughout this recording.
While Another Season’s Promise is primarily centered around Gospel and bluegrass music, there were some nice surprises in terms of style and arrangement. The album’s opener, Roly Poly is a nice take on a western swing classic while Si Bheag, Si Mhor/The Snowy Path is a good medley of Celtic instrumentals. Both of these tracks in particular do a fine job showcasing Hannah Farnum’s versatility as a fiddler.
Arkansas Traveler is another familiar tune that displays the family’s instrumental abilities quite well. The Farnum Family’s rendition features lyrics written in 1947 by an Arkansas committee preparing to name the tune as its state’s song. This track is a great example of patriarch Norm Farnum’s skill as a banjoist and vocalist.
The ultimate stand out on Another Season’s Promise is Field Behind The Plow. Sung here by guitarist Benjamin Farnum, this song tells the story of a hard working farmer who through challenges and various struggles continues to keep a strong sense of faith. Benjamin’s vocal delivery is captivating. You can’t help but hang on to every word.
Also of note is The Fox, which features 17 year old Maggie Farnum. While this song has been recorded by several artists, most notably Nickel Creek, the Farnum Family has completely made it their own. This is also the case with the album’s closing track, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, sung by mother Tricia Farnum.
Another Season’s Promise not only exhibits the Farnum Family’s abilities as an ensemble, but also shines a spotlight on each member’s individual talents quite well. Simply put, it’s a great recording by yet another family band.