Nashville transplant Dave Barnes has built an impressive audience since breaking out in the indie scene in 2004 with 'Brother, Bring the Sun.' Constant touring and a second-self released album has resulted in getting on to Razor & Tie and out comes his label debut album, 'Me & You & The World.' The album is a relative departure from the tried & true pure acoustic pop/rock that had him compared to Matt Wertz and Curtis Peoples. He still is compared to Matt, who inked a deal with Universal Republic but he has infused a fresh helping of gospel, southern blues, soul, and hooks that intend on etching itself to your mind long after listening to the album.
The album begins with the John Mayer-like 'Brothers & Sisters' with the ever so present theme of change, a big theme in this presidential election. 'Until You' is the big single from the album and has resulted in face time on MTV and the accompanying video landing on the TRL rotation. The song is definitely radio-friendly and would be on mainstream radio if on a major label; girls will swoon to the sweet & heartfelt lyrics in the same way Elliott Yamin did in 'Wait for You.' This song would work to garner him new fans, but might turn off his current crop of fans that liked his maverick spirit as his talent is obvious and appears to not be interested in the trappings of major-label stardom. The next song, 'When a Heart Breaks' delves into Barnes' disposition for country music, it is very country-like, although more Rascal Flatts/Carrie Underwood than say Toby Keith or even Kenny Chesney. There is just enough of Barnes' roots in acoustic pop/rock to keep the country-influenced song from going totally country.
'On a Night Like This' is a heartfelt piano-driven number that might as well have been performed by The Eagles with a familiar syncopated ending the iconic band is known before the end of each verse. 'Carry Me Through' might be the strongest track on the album. The a cappella beginning of this clearly gospel song would make old-school gospel fans tired of the commercial appeal of Winans family get up and start to sway and clap their hands in unison. The ragtime feel accents the gospel effect Barnes brings to the table and it highlights his versatility. 'Believe' is a perfect single for Christian Contemporary radio outlets as the song overtly speaks of his Christian faith and how deep it has become over his years on the earth. 'Someday' has a southern jazz/big band feel with the horn section. The marriage-themed lyrics are very catchy and memorable and the melody helps create that very effect.
'10,000 Children' is the preachy song on the album, delving into the materialism of the Western world with the mass poverty in the Third World. Lyrics like “10,000 children are my invitation to change… Prayers and money should not be confused/But I pray both are still used/Only love can save us all.” will make you shed a tear or spur you to donate to a charity for Africa. 'Nothing Else' is another number that may garner him some fans from the fanbase of Elliott Yamin with the sweet lyrics set to a neo-soul beat, something Yamin's fans should be quite familiar with.
Overall, the label debut of Dave Barnes is quite sparkling and showcases the musical evolution of the singer-songwriter. He has infused fresh life into acoustic pop/rock by introducing crackling electric guitar play, splashing soul, gospel, and country, and infusing R&B. For the most part every song on the album works except for maybe 'Believe', which may just be only focused for people strong in their Christian faith because he is not very subtle like a lot of commerical Christian artists who are not overt with their religion into their songs. Songs like 'Brothers & Sisters' and 'Until You' are very commercial and while they are well-done, they may not be as well-received by his existing fanbase as much as his new fans will. But the part of musical evolution is garnering new fans. And 'Carry Me Through' will make you rise, sway, and clap your hands, whether or not gospel is your thing or not. This is certainly one of the best indie albums so far this year and he is someone YOU can't miss.
NOTE: Dave Barnes is June's You Gotta Know! You can go to his page here.
Name: "Me & You & The World "
Label: Razor & Tie Entertainment
Release Date: April 1, 2008
My rating: 4.8 out of 5
Alan Ho is the chief head of Musiqtone.com You can contact him at email@example.com