From Bloomingdale to Nashville
Local musician releases country record
SARANAC LAKE — The songs may come from Nashville, but the artist is straight out of the Adirondacks.
Bloomingdale-born Patrick Darrah will release his debut country album, “Northern Truth,” Friday, Feb. 23.
The record has a contemporary and radio-friendly sound. Thematically, the album hits plenty of notes. There are lovesick ballads, outlaw tunes and feel-good songs.
The opening track, “Colorado,” is about a family man who loses his job and resorts to smuggling marijuana to put food on the table. The tale of an honest man turned outlaw is complimented by heavy guitar chords and pedal steel licks.
“I need the cash, and they need the smoke, but this ain’t Colorado,” he sings.
The 27-year-old has two originals on the record while country musician Brad Wolf wrote a majority of the songs such as “Colorado,” “Mama Left the Radio On” and “I Never Got Over You” with the help from other writers such as Don Goodman, Shane Sutton, Phillip Moore and Stephanie Smith.
“I got pitched a bunch of songs and picked the ones I was most relatable to and whatnot,” Darrah said. “They went with pretty much everything I was going through at the time, so it felt real natural for me to cut them.”
The single “I Never Got Over You,” released in December, captures the longing Darrah felt after he and his longtime girlfriend split up. He wanted to leave for Nashville, and she wanted to stay in New York.
“I pulled away in my truck with my trailer towing behind me,” he said. “I kept looking in my side-view mirror, and there she was just standing at the end of the driveway, watching me drive off. It was just like a country song.”
Despite being an emotional song lyrically, the music stays pretty positive with a big, catchy hook.
Some listeners might wonder why Darrah sings with a Southern accent despite being from upstate New York.
“You just pick up a few things,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s certainly not anything I did on purpose. It’s just kinda the way it comes out. People back home always ask me, ‘What’s with all the y’alls?'”
Darrah wasn’t always country-oriented. The Saranac Lake High School alumnus originally played in a punk-rock band with his cousin Chancey and a few of their friends. As just a couple of teenagers, they would go all around the North Country playing in bars and clubs. As band mates went on to college and moved away, Darrah turned more toward the country music his mother loved.
Plenty of his family members are also musicians. His father Wayne, his sister Nicole, his nephew Chauncey and two of his uncles all play drums. Most of them also work at the family-run Wayne Darrah Auto Body shop in Saranac Lake.
“Patrick is more of a front man,” Nicole said. “That’s why I think he played guitar and sang.”
The door to Wayne Darrah Auto Body is blue and has flames painted on it. On the day the Enterprise visited, one of Patrick’s uncles answered the phones and scheduled appointments for dented and busted-up cars. In the corner, a small LED TV hummed with the sounds of the sitcom “Reba.”
Wayne’s no stranger to the music life. He played drums in couple of bands. One was called the Drifters, not the R&B group that sings “This Magic Moment,” though.
“There was the famous ones, and then there was us,” Wayne said laughing.
One of Wayne’s groups even played before the opening ceremony of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
In terms of sound quality, “Northern Truth” is clean. The instruments are all traditional — guitar, bass, banjo, drums — but there is definitely a level of care and production to make everything sound as pitch-perfect as possible. Wayne said that is most likely a product of Patrick’s attention to detail from when he was a auto body repairman at the family’s shop.
“He’s such a stickler for the details,” Wayne said. “The quality is good, and the songs are technically correct.”
His family members always expected Patrick to make a career in music; he just needed the right environment to be successful.
“There’s not enough venues,” Wayne said. “He never felt like he was going to do anything up here.”
About a year ago, Patrick decided to move to Nashville and work full time as a musician.
“He said, ‘If I don’t go to Nashville, I’m going to kick myself in the a–‘ and now it’s the happiest I’ve ever seen him,” Wayne said.
Patrick Darrah doesn’t fall into the sub-genre of country that is Bro-country, made up by artists such as Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan. Sure, Darrah’s songs are modern and have a solid production quality, but he doesn’t sing the type of repetitive songs about cold beer, trucks, tailgates and skinny girls in frayed jean shorts that frat boys go nuts over.
However, Darrah respects these groups to a point.
“With country becoming more widespread, it’s good as far as shedding light on country music and bringing new fans into the genre that wouldn’t necessarily give it a chance. Whether or not I enjoy listening to those songs, I still respect the art and the talent that it takes to make a song.”
He said he enjoys the direction country music is going in now with musicians such as Chris Stapleton, Jon Pardi and Jamey Johnson.
The album title “Northern Truth” references where he grew up and pays homage to the fact that there’s country all over the world, not just in the southern U.S.
“[Saranac Lake is] like a small Southern town that got picked up and dropped in upstate New York,” he said.