The Barrel Boys–timeless, classic bluegrass

The Barrel Boys are pretty darn bluegrass.  They’re perfect for square dancing under the millions of stars in Wyoming.  They’re perfect for driving in an antique truck through the prairies of eastern Colorado.  They’re perfect for raising your heart rate, putting a smile on your face, and helping you seize the day.   I’m checking out “Early On”, released last November today and let me tell you–this album is great! It’s their second release, the first was a Christmas album which is super fun and you should look it up if you are ever in the market for Christmas music.

I wish that the opening track, “Early On”, was the song that woke me up every morning.  It is the perfect song for a morning person.  It just reminded me what being a morning person is all about.

“Good Morning, Christine” is sad and salty and sweet all in one.  Perfect snack, perfect song.

I’m really just loving the bluegrassiness of it all.  Often I get bluegrass albums that are verging on Americana or maybe they’re mostly bluegrass but also pretty folky.  This one is straight, unadulterated bluegrass and it is fun.  There are tons of instruments: fiddle, dobro, clawhammer banjo, regular banjo, upright bass, good things, and lots of male voices. Did I mention that this band is all men?  Trust me, I love lady bands, bands featuring ladies, and women in bluegrass more than most but there is something to be said for a bluegrass band of this purity composed of five quality gentlemen.  It’s simple and nostalgic.  There is something charming about it.

“Something to do with Fireflies” is a vibrant, harmonic instrumental interlude.  “I Can’t Lie to You” reminds me of something they would sing at a barn raising in the 1890’s.  It’s timeless and fun, sincere and a little bit snarky.  I love the harmonies and layers of instruments.

“Gunshots and Forget-me-nots” is just beautiful.  So so beautiful.  The song rambles like a brook–smooth and melodic, telling stories, declaring love.  It’s not too complicated,  not too many voices, not too many instruments, but just enough to create emotion, tension.  This is a song to be proud of.  Also–all of you Emilys out there–this song is just for you.

Love the variety in the vocals.  Different songs feature different singers, different sounds, different instruments while still keeping the big picture.  I love the quality of the storytelling in these songs especially in “The Ballad of Death and the Rider”.  It’s ambling, tragic, clear, rugged AND well under five minutes.  So concise.  Absolute art.

The album finishes off with a fantastic desperate song that should be sung over a few dark beers.  The lyrics are expressive, the tune is so catchy.  The vocals give it that perfect bar-song feel.  It’s fun.  This is a wonderful, fun song.

If you like bluegrass at all, invest in this album. It feels like a classic.

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