Bobby Barnett

Little Wounds

Written by: TL on 16/09/2014 17:42:41

I'm honestly not one to often take interest in solo projects, but with stark Pennsylvania punk-rock group Captain, We're Sinking being responsible for last year's (far and away) best record "The Future Is Cancelled", I couldn't help but take notice when one part of their vocal duo, Bob Barnett - the brother to Greg from The Menzingers - released a solo record recently in form of "Little Wounds". Shouldering a large part of the songwriting responsibility for Captain, Barnett sings similarly bleak and melancholic tunes on this solo effort, yet he naturally does so here in a more stripped down, songwriter-type setting, with the instrumentation primarily coming from acoustic guitar - and the rest mostly left to Barnett's singing and lyrics, bar some lines of guest vocals from female singer Kara Boles.

The good news is that Barnett does well with his singing even here in the more exposed setting, and his leaps from thoughtful subdued parts to heartwrenching belted ones make for a dynamic that works its effect on the listener from the start of the record to the ending - like a Dashboard Confessional with less hope and less naivety. There's a significant number of refrains here that will have you singing along even absentmindedly as soon as Barnett raises his voice, with examples given in form of opener "Do You Think I'm Happy" as well as "You're Getting Better" and "St. John". The latter two in particular appear to me as the ones that do the most to hint a similar sense of tragedy as Barnett did on "The Future Is Cancelled", making the listener feel an interest in listening to the lyrics to find out what has happened, even if you have a stinging suspicion that it might be too sad to bear. - A feeling that should be familiar to anyone that has ever seen someone like Geoff Rickley perform acoustically for instance.

Barnett's vulnerability is consistently on display throughout the record then, and even with simple means he manages to create something rather compelling. That said, things never strike me quite as urgent as they did with Captain, and the movements in Barnett's downplayed compositions seem a good deal more conservative than those he had part in with the band, the effect being that it's more rarely that you feel the singer lose himself as fully to the desperation of the various emotions the songs deal with. It's like the setting makes Barnett sound more resigned than desperate, which for me at least tugs less at the heartstrings that tend to command over whether I return to an album or not. Conclusively then, in terms of opening up, Bobby Barnett is probably in the top tier of raw, heart-on-sleeve songwriters out there, but in terms of doing something soulful with the genre's subtle yet no less important arrangements, I think there are still some leagues up to the ranks of more accomplished guys like Ben Howard, Ryan Adams or Charlie Simpson.


Download: Do You Think I'm Happy, You're Getting Better, St. John
For The Fans Of: Captain, We're Sinking, Geoff Rickley, Into It. Over It., Dashboard Confessional

Release date 18.08.2014

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