Label: Razor & TieMore Info
Dave Barnes with Marc Scibilia When Dave Barnes first showed up on the music scene 12 years ago, he was the guy hitting the college circuit with limitless energy and an equally unrestrained expectation for the future. There were songs to be penned, tours to be booked and a whole world of experiences to be seized. Since then, the singer-songwriter has written and released seven albums, played hundreds of cities each year, received Grammy and CMA nominations for Blake Shelton's cut of his song God Gave Me You, become a father and formed deeper relationships in the industry than his 23-year-old self could have dared hope. Turning 35 this year, Barnes is in a season of both nostalgia and reality about what it means to be a traveling musician, and those reflections have become the life and breath of his eighth full-length release, Golden Days. It kind of tells a story of beginning something, where you are now and, as the season changes, the things you look back on, he says. Having recorded his 2012 Razor & Tie Records release, Stories to Tell, in LA with renowned producer John Fields, Barnes is stepping closer to home for his new independently released project, co-producing with multi-Grammy nominated Ed Cash in Nashville and giving his thoughts time to simmer and take shape. Ive tried as Ive gotten older to make records like theyre chapters in a book, to try to really capture what Im thinking about in that season, he explains. This record, to me, is probably one of the most interesting subject-wise. Its a bit of a retrospective. Golden Days opens with the lively and optimistic Twenty-Three, a song that captures the essence of the early years when Barnes and musician friends like Matt Wertz and Andy Davis were young and wild and free and dreaming about the possibilities of their futures. Following a loose chronology, Golden Days closes on a note of raw reflection with Hotel Keys, a song Barnes originally wrote with and for David Nail but found himself connecting to personally. Hotel Keys is really about when this dream turns into a job, he says truthfully. The fairy dust starts to wear off it becomes more work than play. Basically, its wishing you could go back to when this dream was more than just a pocket of hotel keys. Though hes refreshingly candid about the realities of the road, when Barnes sits back to survey his career so far, the emotion that rises to the surface is one of immense gratitude, expressed on his favorite track and the first single from the new record, a song called Good. The piano-led ballad finds Barnes in his sweet spot, taking in the blessings of his everyday life the sunrise, his wife laughing in the kitchen, little footsteps on the stairs and even the wrong turns and heartaches that have allowed him to recognize the gifts for what they are. Between those bookends, the 11-track record unfolds with vibrant and diverse tunes like the sultry Lucie Silvas duet, Little Civil War, which pushes and pulls with the beautiful tension of a Bonnie Raitt refrain, the danceable Something More and Heartbroken Down, an upbeat yet bluesy number about missing a love. When asked what times has taught him about songwriting, Barnes points to the value of a sentiment. He says hes come to understand the amount of time and care it takes to truly unearth one and express it. Maybe its like this, he begins. At the beginning of your career, its like youve been willed this huge plot of land full of songs sitting beneath the surface. Every time you dig your shovel in, youre like, Oh my gosh, this cool little thing I bet this is valuable. And 12 years into a career youve dug up so much of that ground, but every now and then, deeper and deeper below, you find something thats significant something thats worth a lot more. You hit your shovel to it and realize, this is going to take me months to unearth. Its worth it, but its going to be lots of work. Having set himself to that work for more than a decade, Barnes has discovered many of these fragile and precious pieces, but unlike when he was first starting out, hes more intentional now, careful to give these insights the time to develop before attempting to fully grasp them. When youre younger, you can sort of break those things in half in excitement, he reflects. While inspiration often comes as the result of time and work, Barnes says nothing has opened him up to a new realm of creativity so much as being a father to his now two-year-old son. Its like God just takes a piece of your heart, pulls it out of your chest and puts legs on it, he describes. Its affected everything. Its been this really great introduction into this new part of myself that I didnt know. Its like a whole new array of colors that you get introduced to as you sort of paint these things like here are 3,000 new colors. And he isnt keeping that inspiration to himself. An artist loved for his approachable and often hilarious nature, Barnes is actively involved in building into the Nashville community and using his experiences to help others however he can. From spearheading a monthly gathering of artists to mentoring younger musicians, he lives by the question, What good is what you know unless you can share it with other people? Now that Im here more, Id love to feel like Im still involved in peoples lives, he says. Balancing the realities of his life, career, family and fans, hes finding the harmony between writing and recording in Nashville and being out on the road playing shows. Its not like starting over, but its kind of like starting over, he explains. Youve been through round one of what you do, and now youre getting to where youre not going to be out playing 200 shows anymore because you cant. In some ways, life has undeniably changed for Dave Barnes since those early years running the college circuit. Hes matured, grown up even. Hes not 23 anymore, but anyone who knows him will tell you this: 12 years into this thing, hes still full of limitless energy and an unrestrained expectation about the future. As much as its terrifying, he concedes, its kind of the land of promise, because who knows whats gonna happen?