Hailing from Minneapolis, Farr Well is the artistic project of the multi-talented artist and activist Farrington Llewellyn. In his latest EP, Hard Pill to Swallow, the artist invites us to explore mental health by sharing his own experiences with bipolar disorder. Produced by Sao Mao and Marcus Kar, Hard Pill to Swallow is an effortlessly flowy record that encourages both movement and reflection to its listeners.
The opener “Think” takes off with echo-laden choruses over midtempo where Farr chants about suicide and how people try to mask it off. In “Bprr” he breaks down the guilt and shame surrounding our own vulnerability. The phrase “I’ve been feeling guilty” feels all too familiar and empathic as the lyrics sink its teeth to some of the heaviest emotions that surround our own mental health. This sense of guilt continues in “Living L(r)ight” where Farr admits his flaws and awareness of it. “I’m not living right” he raps. It’s a smooth, slow-burning piece that accepts imperfections alongside the hope of making things right.
The grooviest part of the record is “Street Forecast” where the sparse, echoing choruses in the background give us a fizzling welcome. Hovering the line between hip-hop and R&B, Farr shuffles through issues of cultural identity, community, police brutality, and mental illness. In “Kid Again,” the splashy drumbeats and heavy basslines capture our adult desire to relive the naivete and carefree emotions of our childhood.
“I don’t know what is going on, but something’s wrong,” he chants in the final piece “2/20.” Over the lowdown groove, Farr captures the inner chaos of not understanding why certain emotions and thoughts cross his mind. “This album is bigger than me, it has the potential to stimulate the conversation around mental illness and trauma in communities where it’s stigmatized,” shared Farr. “It’s a ‘hard pill to swallow’ but working through our hard life experiences is the path to healing and building resilience.”
Aside from music, Farr Well is also an activist who has been working with youth community in Northside Minneapolis and Eastside Saint Paul. Some of his activist works include organizing concerts and events with Collective Noise Meet & Gree Community Concerts and Black Identity Series. He’s currently working on launching Hard Pill to Swallow Online Show Series, so stay tuned.