Barton – Simple Songs
The majority of Barton’s album is inclined towards the rock genre with a heavy experimental vibe. There are clear evidences of old school rock influence most notably from the very beginning and end of the album. From the first track, “We are the Ones,” to the second track, “Way About Her,” until “Once Upon a Time,” there is a clear reminiscence in the fast-paced beats and heavy melody. Kenneth Barton clearly knows his guitar in his liberal and energetic guitar solos that bounces with an energy.
By the time “The Healer” comes, the rapid pace of the first few songs slowly wind down into a satisfying mellow pace. This song foreshadows uncharacteristic twists of songs halfway into the album. One can find a jazzy quality; but the steady rock influences remain afloat nonetheless. The next song is mellow as well. “Tool” brings small bouts of modern experimentation. Barton juggles the mixture of old and new tunes, which heralds the entrance of “Glamour in the Sky” that solidifies a fresher note.
Certain highlights of this album come from “Wtf,” with unwound energy from the past few songs. The melody is very upbeat and cleanly picks up from where the first few songs left. As always, phenomenal tones and a clever mixture of the vocals and accompaniment gave well-deserved justice to the destination of the song. Another song that stands out is “Gatekeeper.” Which takes the time to build up the atmosphere. This helps the audience ‘catch up’ with the fast pace and creative blend of fast paced tones and a slower tread. The lyrics is catchy and the vocalist can sync with the power of the beats. Although the middle of the album has a shaky standing, the end headed by “Bridge to Nowhere” and the songs that follow, give a satisfying conclusion armed with an impressive work of the bass and guitar.
As if to contradict the energetic quality of the highlights, Barton introduces “Once Upon a Time.” A song that slows down with a soft blend of vocals and the ambience of a ballad. This softer quality exhibits a tender note that’s fully unleashed in “For Awhile” in the middle of the album which may seem out of place at first glance, but was foreshadowed in the acoustic tunes of the former song. This detour was also contained in experimental nudges that plunge the former songs into different lights. Afterwards, the song “Some Day” comes and the distinct tune of rock is almost extinguished in the soft female vocals and deceptively acoustic melody. These songs definitely give the album a uniqueness as the unusual pace, alternating from speeding up to slowing down, welcomes the surprises and dishes out unexpected melodies right in the middle of the album.
But after this detour, the focus is returned to where it began. “The Red Line” retraces the album back to old school rock. As the song “Bridge to Nowhere” comes, the intro abruptly pours an energy-filled melody that rock songs usually carry. Those with a fondness for instrumental mixes will find this song very satisfying. It is a balm that comforts those who may have been caught off-guard by the prior detours. Afterwards, “The Dead Hand” maintains the pace with no more exchanges that would clue-in most that Barton means to end the journey of his album. This goodbye culminates in “The Big Dig” which comes and ends with none of the former tenderness, but all of the impressive courage and melody.
Overall, the album is rated 6/10. This is because several songs need more technical polishing because the vocals tend to be overpowered by the instrumentals, especially in “Once Upon a Time” and “Palo Alto.” While this doesn’t prevent from appreciating the album as a whole, the songs in need of more polishing aren’t given the fullest potential because of the technical barriers. Nonetheless, the highlights certainly make up for them in terms of sound quality and blending. I’d recommend this album for those who have a taste for rock and favor old rock bands.
Sophia Athena S. Ramos