There is absolutely nothing fancy about The Barlow, and that’s the way they like it. The Denver-based four-piece specializes in Coors-soaked Colorado country – songs about road woes and lost loves that sound just right on a lonely mountain drive or in a sweaty honky tonk (really, the two best places to listen to country music). The band’s third album, New Year, Old Me, finds the band looking at tradition, both in music and in life.
New Year, Old Me kicks off with the dancehall twirler (and the album’s first single), “Mile Marker Blues,” which finds lead singer/songwriter Shea Boynton pointing out the aimlessness of the open road – “Looking at you stranger/Is like looking at myself without a thing to prove.” The dark rocker “Josephine” rues the girl that just won’t leave your veins – “Spent a lifetime in limbo because of you” – and features some nifty guitar work from Brad Johnson. Second single “All My Days” takes a more string-band approach, with Boynton on banjo and Dan Hochhalter on fiddle in a song about the kind of love that’s as freeing as a boat anchor – “I’m wondering if we know how to miss each other.”
Lack of escapability is a theme across New Year, Old Me. The title cut is a speed demon of a tune about those stretches in life where absolutely nothing goes right – “I’d drown in a puddle on a bluebird day” – that bails itself out of its mood with two flamethrower guitar solos. “Tarred,” though, is a big pace-changer and the best song on the record. Led by a rhythmic acoustic line and subtle steel work from Ben Waligoske, Boynton slows down to take a look at the worst characteristics that we pass down the generations – “Only two forms of expression/Silence and rage/And if a phone call at Christmas is the best that we can do/Shame on me and shame on you.” When the communication does happen, the effect is chilling – “You’re the man I thought you’d be is all I wanna say.” But country rocker “Bad Ol’ Days” perks things up, while Boynton is trying to leave some of those less-worthy customs and habits behind – “And I say, those were the bad old days/Left it there to change my ways.” Sometimes, a little bit less of the “old me” will do just fine.
Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “Shut It Down” – A guitar and organ-led Gothic tale about addiction that bases itself in a devastatingly simple axiom – “Obsessions ain’t ever satisfied.”
New Year, Old Me was produced by The Barlow and Brad Smalling, engineered by Smalling, Shea Boynton and Jason Brogly and mixed and mastered by Smalling. All songs written by Boynton and The Barlow. The Barlow is Boynton (vocals, guitar, banjo), Troy Scoope (bass), Ben Richter (drums) and Brad Johnson (guitar, vocals). Additional musicians on the album include Ben Waligoske (pedal steel), Andy Schneider (keys) and Dan Hochhalter (fiddle).
Go here to order New Year, Old Me (out June 24): https://www.thebarlowband.com/store
Check out tour dates here: https://www.thebarlowband.com/shows