Songs of the road, love and loss feature in new album from Georgia.
‘Until the Thunder’ is Evan Barber’s first solo album after a number of other releases with his band, the Dead Gamblers. He adds to a long list of songs celebrating the road or lamenting lost love, or both. That’s not particularly surprising because singers/songwriters spend years touring as well as falling in love and then being whipsawed between the two. Is the best course to trust love and stay, or to follow the Muse and go? How does Barber work with this timeworn material? In ‘Tape’, the first track on the album, he says: “She knew I had to go and it always made her sad.” Then there is regret: “I thought maybe the sun would shine take me back to a place where I remembered the time / We talked about tomorrow and it seemed so far away.” In ‘Seventeen’, love seems to win over the road: “Lord I’ve never seen the likes of you / I’ve been on this road a while I give credit where its due / It seems that now my drifting days are through.”
But ‘Young’, a delightful song, acknowledges the ephemeral, if joyous nature of being young and in love. Barber sings: “To try to hold on to the good times but they move so fast.” And he harks back to the call of the open road: “I’ve got to go but I promise I’ll be back again.” ‘Sunday’ has him actually back on the road, eyes wide open to the ambiguities of the situation: “I can’t tell you baby when I’ll be back /I know that kind of love gives you a heart attack.”
It takes experience to write a song like ‘Intentions’: “Bad intentions might have been the type of thing that made me ask your name, But it’s harder to acknowledge when you’ve only got yourself to blame. There’s discrepancies in what I did and what I always meant to do.” He notes the lessons not learned and the advice not taken. “If you paid closer attention to the words that people say / You start to understand that it could’ve gone a different way”, Barber sings in ‘Intentions’, adding in ‘Young’: “If you’d paid attention to what they said to do, You could’ve missed all the trouble that I put you through”.
There is more here than road dust and regret. ‘N. Florida’ is a hymn to childhood, ‘Walking’ comments on the inevitable end of life and ‘Jesus And The Kid’ is a whacky café conversation. There are good lines in every song and many are insightful too. That said, they don’t all work, with some sounding like exercises in songwriting.
The good news is the music more than balances out any lyrical lapses. The instruments are well arranged and lay down a base for Barber’s rich Georgian voice. There are moments when it all comes gloriously together. This is a good solid album that may portend greater things.