For a state that sees itself as western as all get out, Colorado hasn’t had a true country artist bust out nationally in quite some time. We (full disclosure – I’ve lived in the Centennial State for over eight years) have a wealth of country and Southern rock bands making great music and touring regionally (see list below), but it would be great to see one truly hit, similar to the Lumineers and Nathaniel Rateliff (but, you know, with more pedal steel). Denver-based band The Barlow is taking aim at that goal with their second album, Horseshoe Lounge, hoping to put Colorado Country on the US map.
Suitable for a band from Colorado, where no one’s a native (even front man Shea Boynton grew up in Maine), Horseshoe Lounge is a mix of styles, but mostly settles somewhere between roadhouse country and Southern rock. The lead track, “Hard Lovin’,” hangs closer to the latter, with loads of guitar and keys and a tribute to not slowing down, ever, at least until you’re forced to – “Time in cell did that, too/And it’s drinks and drugs and hard lovin’ induced.” The title track keeps up the pace, with a little bit more twang and whole lot of steel, courtesy of Zachary Moulton of Texas’ Mike and the Moonpies, and this is the song you’ll want to hear in a loud, sweaty country bar – “We’ll drive a hundred down Highway 85/Time don’t surrender when you’re dying to survive.” Horseshoe Lounge is actually full of tunes that will likely lead to a speeding ticket. “Ain’t Ever Comin’ ‘Round” is highlighted by a speedy guitar/fiddle duel, “Before You Know” is Texas gothic in double time, and “Longest Days” will have you speeding back to that dance hall to cut it up to Boynton’s banjo line with cutest girl or guy in the joint.
The band knows how to pick their friends, too. Their cover of Chris Knight’s “Homesick Gypsy” turns the Kentucky legend’s front-porch stomp into a Southern rock burner, topped off with a scorching guitar solo. And the album wraps with the head Moonpie himself, Mike Harmeier, sitting in with The Barlow on “Part of the Band,” an ode to getting, well, a little bit of what you want – “I come from a long line of losers/But I’m glad to be part of the band.” Coming from a group of road warriors who all have “real” jobs in addition to making music, that weariness is earned. Here’s hoping they can soon put those jobs on hold, fire the tour van back up and bring Colorado Country to your own local honky tonk.
Horseshoe Lounge was produced by the band: Shea Boynton (vocals, guitar, banjo), Troy Scoope (bass), Ben Richter (drums, vocals), Brad Johnson (guitars, vocals) and Andy Schneider (keys, bass, vocals). Additional musicians include Eric Rudnick (pedal steel) and Dan Hochhalter (fiddle).
Order Horseshoe Lounge here: https://thebarlowband.com/store
Go here to check on future shows, including a free livestream on February 19th: https://thebarlowband.com/shows
Check out these other fine Colorado country-ish bands: Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angels, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, Ryan Chrys and the Rough Cuts, Extra Gold, and Hang Rounders.