Love’s Ups and Downs

The first track of Dave Barnes’ latest release and forth full-band studio album, What We Want, What We Get, – with the opening line “everything is beautiful” riding on a smooth lilting reggae groove – suggests that we’re about to embark on a ten track journey through McCartney motivated silly love songs. Not true – that opening track “Little Lies” delves deep into the realistic language of love with “words can be daffodils or a fire in an open field.” Now that is love, beautiful and frightening, “butterflies with broken wings.”

As a songwriter, Barnes was initially only interested in writing material for other performers but was later encouraged by his peers to perform his works himself. So, damn his boyish good looks and amiable stage presence, after graduating from Middle Tennessee State University, that’s what he set out to do in 2002 when he released his debut EP Three, Then Four. His songwriting skills have since been praised by Amy Grant, Vince Gill and John Mayer. Barnes even dabbled in stand-up comedy, but thankfully returned to songwriting in 2007.

Barnes’ latest messages for all lovers – with bits of Fagen and Becker influences – reach fruition in the final tracks, “My Love, My Enemy” and “Amen,” with observations such as “You’re my darkest night lost at sea, you’re the shadows, you’re my light” and “We’ll live through so much more than we could take… When everything’s wrong, and I’m the one to blame.”
This article was originally published in Eugene Weekly, June 24, 2010

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