Music / Features
Track by Track:
Nathan Abbey - Big Farmer
Words by James Lynch
Thursday 8th April, 2021
Following the release of his sophomore solo album last month, we caught up with hazy psych-pop mastermind Nathan Abbey to dig into each track on the adventurous Big Farmer.
After playing in a string of psychedelic groups over the past decade, Nathan Abbey’s debut solo album Cross-Eyed seemed like a logical step for the versatile songwriter. Still leaning into the psych world, Cross-Eyed saw Abbey toying with idiosyncratic bedroom production to craft a collection of sample-based excursions into captivating lo-fi pop. But now with his second album, he’s once again side-stepped - this time, recording live with a minimalist band, to have his musings thrust into second gear as his songwriting sounds more immediate than ever.

From beginning to end, Big Farmer is a wild ride through Nathan’s kaleidoscopic musical mind. ‘Pure Emotion’ kicks things off with a bang, full with soaring leads and triumphant hooks over a thumping backbeat, and this pace holds up on tracks like ‘Bound to Fall in Love’ with its racing groove or the skittering ‘The Time Machine’.

However, when the grooves do slow down and Nathan’s eye for detail and earnest charisma sits on display, the album feels just as immersive. From the free-spirited charm of ‘Even When It Works (Love Hurts)’, to the lilting ‘Wait for an Answer’, and through to the downcast oddity of closer ‘Life’s a Joke’, it’s an album bursting with nugget after nugget of captivating pop whimsy.
Pure Emotion

All about high energy here, like a giant psychedelic rocket going off. The beds of the album were recorded live in Fabian's small studio called the Fishbone Tone Shack in Northcote. Being recorded live and all in the same room we decided not to use a click track which was kind of a new thing for me. At the beginning of the song you can hear us playing kind of loose and it just grooves along. But when we hit the bridge we really find the pocket and it gets a little turbo charge to the end.

Bound To Fall In Love

Pocket punk optimistic love song. For me it’s almost like a piece of candy, just a bite sized pop song where it’s big and bright all the way through. And it’s true we all have the capacity to fall in love at any moment. Shout out to Fabs big drum fill out of the bridge. 

Even When It Works (Love Hurts)

This song is a conversation between a father and son on the father's death bed. Dark I know, but you just can’t have love without pain. It sucks but it’s beautiful. My friend says the synth parts sound like Dr Seuss trumpets, I can feel it.

The Time Machine

This is my sci-fi adventure tale. The lead character is this time traveling dude, who can move freely through the 4th dimension. But here’s the kicker - it doesn’t matter where or when he goes, he never comes close to understanding how it all works. This one makes me think of the silver surfer, riding ripples of space and time.

Where Do We Go From Here

I moved into a new place next to a cemetery before lockdown, and I would take my hour of exercise walking around it. It’s pretty peaceful but it will also make you think about death. This one’s a tale where each verse is a moment in the character's life in which they get a slap in the face and find themselves in the hall of infinite doorways. 

Miss The Way It Feels

Half way through the album and now here comes the love songs. It’s a bit of a nostalgic number, looking back and longing for a certain feeling that existed in the past but is no longer in your life.  Shout out to Alex’s lovely bass counter melodies!

Wait For An Answer

This one's a clear lockdown song lol. I guess it’s a song about loneliness in a detached digital world. Since it’s a little softer and more dynamic I could crank the room mics, this brought a cool different space and air to the sound. Hearing it transports me back to the acoustics of Fabian’s little studio where it was recorded. 


This one’s got a little different thing going for it. Lyrically it’s narrating a life event. These songs are hard and scary and I have mixed feelings about them. On one side it can feel like a powerful tool that can help you process an experience, but on the other side it’s tough because you can't really capture the whole truth of the experience.

It’s Almost Over

I wrote this track in Montreal after attending the 2019 climate strike led by Greta Thunberg. It was a pretty crazy event, apparently there were like 500,000 people marching. I found myself pretty close to hear Greta’s speech and also a bunch of other great activists singing and speaking. So that was the big inspiration, also it was around the same time that back in Australia the bushfires were raging, so it was something that was really on my mind. The song also brings to mind this Mad Max wasteland of an apocalyptic world brought down by climate change.   

Life’s A Joke

This is a cute one, I wrote this one a little different to the others. In a burst I wrote 20 off the cuff verses and then left it for a while. I then just chose the ones that worked together the best. I feel it has a more stream of consciousness element to the lyrics which make it pretty special.
Big Farmer is out now.