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Taking cues from Nashville and Stoney LaRue, Dallas roots-rock quartet Somebody's Darling gets ready for a bluesy life on the road



Somebody's Darling
9 p.m. Friday
110 W. Main, Norman

Like a relationship that just feels right, Somebody's Darling came together quickly and hit it off well. The quartet hit the ground running, playing its first show during its first month together. Within a year, the Dallas act won 2008's Shiner Rising Star contest, earning a recording contract with the beer maker's associated record label.

Led by the gruff, impassioned vocals of Amber Farris, Darling's self-titled debut rumbles with an anxious country/roots-rock sound reminiscent of Dallas peers Slobberbone and Old 97's. While there's undoubtedly some country sway and sonorous twang, to consider Somebody's Darling as anything other than a rock band is a gross injustice.

"We don't know what we're going to do next, but we've been giving this album a real good push," Farris said.

The group is on its first national tour, bringing it to Norman on Friday before returning to Dallas for a show that will be recorded for a live DVD.

"It's our first album, so we're taking our time with it and don't want to rush it, but we already have a new album written and we're still writing new songs," she said.

Somebody's Darling formed around a circle of friends who've known each other for a while. Farris and guitarist David Ponder were members of the indie-pop band Raleigh before the pair embarked on a new direction.

"What happened was I started writing my own music," Farris said.

She'd been playing lead guitar in Raleigh, and this represented her first attempt at fronting a band. At 13, she was inspired to pick up the guitar after seeing Wynonna Judd at the State Fair of Texas.

Becoming a lead singer was challenging to hear Farris tell it, but you'd never know it listening to the band's debut. From a bluesy vocal swerve suggestive of Janis Joplin, to her strutting recriminations reminiscent of "Exile on Main St."-era Rolling Stones, she projects plenty of personality and stubborn intensity.

While the musicians have confidence, winning Rising Star was completely unexpected. Facing more than 100 other country bands, they thought they wouldn't have a chance, so they were surprised each week that they made it a little further.

Farris said they were "blindsided" by the victory, but the act took full advantage of the opportunity, recording its eponymous album with Dan Baird, a guitarist formerly with The Georgia Satellites. His sympathetic ear was perfect, helping them complete many half-finished songs they had in hand upon entering the studio.

"He would hear a song and would play something on it, and would just know what it needed," Farris said. "He made us feel like home. He really knows what he's doing, and he took kind of a young band that didn't know what they were doing very well, and led us in the right path."

Another big influence was Stoney LaRue, who took them out on tour for a few dates to show them how a pro does it.

"Those were the biggest crowds we ever played for," Farris said. "We had to learn real quick how to jump up to their level. That's kind of a challenge you get put into, and it makes you be the better band."

The experience reinforced their sense of its destiny, which Farris said is more life on the road than in the studio.

"That's where we shine. We're a live band. We like to put on a good show," she said. "Hopefully, we'll get there." "Chris Parker

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