Reviews

The Barlow’s New Year, Old Me


By Brian Rock

The Barlow share new music in their good old style on their third release, New Year, Old Me. Combining outlaw country, honky-tonk, red dirt music, and a bit of indie attitude, The Barlow make meaty, blue-collar Americana. In a sane world, their music would just be called country; but that ship has long since sailed. But Country’s loss is Americana’s gain because The Barlow make music like Waylon Jennings, Billy Joe Shaver, and Willie Nelson used to make.

The title track captures the band at their most dynamic. With smokin’ hot lead guitar licks and a full tilt rhythm section, lead singer, Shea Boynton celebrates the joys of an honest day’s work, shooting pool, and being true to yourself. In authentic outlaw country fashion, Boynton addresses those who ask him to change by singing, “There ain’t nothing wrong, it’s just the lights ain’t on and I’m heading on down the road.” Even if he can’t see what lies ahead, Boynton makes an anthem out of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” motto.

“Without Emotion” adds a subtle Cajun rhythm as the band takes a sly shot at those who sing for money instead of the love of making music. “Shut It Down” transitions those rhythms into a Hammond organ infused southern rock, war protest song. “Josephine,” is a haunting tale of love gone bad with hints of late 90’s Athens GA, Indie Rock vibes. “Bad ol Days,” also blends country and rock rhythms to lament the past. The band further explores heartache on the bluegrass tinged, “All My Days.”

Diving deeper into traditional country, the band breaks out the steel guitar on the weepy ballad, “Mile Marker Blues.” “Heart In A Sling,” as the title implies, is another heartbreak ballad. “Tarred” completes their foray into classic, ”tear in my beer” country. Although often opaque with their lyrics, “Tarred” cuts right to the point: “We ain’t reading the same book, let alone the same page. Only two forms of expression, silence and rage.” Capturing the essence of great country pathos, Boynton sings, “If a phone call at Christmas is the best that we can do, shame on me and shame on you.” It may be an old story, but The Barlow find a new way to tell it. Both lyrically and musically, New Year, Old Me is the best of old school Country and new Americana.

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Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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