Tight harmonies, vivid lyrics and skilled instrumentalists are enough to make a decent country music album, but it takes a talented producer to make it great. 'The FARM' is a fun 43 minute wall of sound, but there's a polish on the record that's difficult to penetrate.

This sounds like a singular nitpick, but it's as noticeable as a movie shot with television cameras or vice versa. The FARM's Nick Hoffman co-produced the album with Danny Myrick. If either has produced wildly successful albums, they've deviated from that formula. Despite 11 rock-solid cuts, one still yearns for a little more grit beneath the waxy surface.

The band's varied influences show up throughout the album in unconventional, but mostly enjoyable, ways. There's a lot of name-checking -- two songs include the word "farm" in the title -- as well as talk-back echoes by either Hoffman or Damien Horne. Horne sounds right at home taking lead on the R&B flavored 'Nowhere Road,' the first chance fans get to take a breath after three racetrack cuts that will leave you with a dance-induced fever, and the emotional -- if not slightly 'We Are the World'-ish -- 'Be Grateful.'

"And it feels right / Breathing your breath in mine / Hold you all night / Til' the moon melts into sweet, sweet sunshine,"  the FARM sing on 'Sweet Sweet Sunshine,' track No. 3. It's one of a number of examples of the trio's strong songwriting relationship. Together they co-wrote four songs together, while having individual hands in a number of others.

The strongest cuts come late, beginning with a powerful love ballad called 'That 100 Miles' and Krista Marie's showcase on 'Every Time I Fall.' This is the most scaled-back production, with only the singer's fragile emotions and an acoustic guitar carrying the message early on. "I lose my keys and lose my cool / I never learn it's like I'm back in school / I end up breaking all my rules / Every time I fall in love," she sings with conviction.

'Train I'm On' is a swampy, bluesy, prison yard foot-stomper chiseled from the Mississippi delta. 'Walkin'' closes the album with a sound that brings Michael Buble to mind. These two songs exemplify how capable the trio is of reaching their arms around a wide range of styles without stretching. If the group stays together, they'll no doubt work through any remaining growing pains heard at times throughout 'The FARM Inc.' album For now, they're an exciting young trio, capable of being great.

3 Stars

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