This ‘Barna Howard’ review was written by Marc Simonsson, a GIGsoup contributor.
For any emotion there is an album that can fit the mood. If life has thrown you a curve ball and you need the proverbial shoulder to lean on, you need not look any further than ‘Barna Howard’s’ sophomore release, ‘Quite A Feelin’. A modern day ‘James Taylor’, Howard’s smooth folk will temporarily numb any feelings of adversity.
Howard’s jovial banjo strumming opening track instantly instils a sense of calmness within the listener. The lyrics perfectly paint the scene for where this album should be listened to and where one can escape from their woes – on the road. Howard is well travelled across the US for his age, and it is therefore fitting that he injects this album with a travelling spirit that encourages the listener to do what everyone should do now and again, jump in the car with windows down, music flowing and just drive!
Howard’s adventurous background has enabled him to live more than the average musician and it is clearly reflected in his lyrics. The subject matter of songs such as ‘Hands Like Gloves’ and the way in which Howard poetically writes about these topics is mature beyond his years. Like any great folk artist, Howard is a story-teller who develops characters with which the listener can sympathise. It is his delicate story-telling which can summon up memories for the listener and like Howard’s retro style, the album takes us back in time to memories we adore.
However, Howard’s old fashioned style is also the pit-fall of his music. Artists such as ‘Michael Kiwanuka’, ‘Johnny Flynn’ and the exquisite ‘Laura Marling’ have revitalised the British folk scene in recent years. But where these artists differ to ‘Barna Howard’ is their ability to bring a modern vibe to their music. Howard has previously been described by one critic as a “lost genius of the 60s” and whilst this was meant as a compliment towards his work and those to which his music pays homage, it also highlights the fact that he is looking to the past too much when writing his material.
‘Quite A Feelin’ is a beautifully written album which captures the very essence of a free spirit, but for this time-travelling folk singer to really spread his wings as a musician he needs to look forward and only then will he find his real voice.
Quite a Felin’ is out now on ‘Loose Music’
The full track-listing for “Quite a Feelin” is as follows…
‘Bitter Side of Blue’
‘Hands Like Gloves’
‘Notches On a Frame’
‘Quite a Feelin’
‘Then and There’
‘Rooster Still Crows’
‘Pull Us Back or Wind Us Up’
‘Lend Me a Moment’