Robert Vincent “Barriers”

Robert Vincent Music/Thirty Tigers, 2024

Songs with emotionally mature lyrics and beautifully crafted arrangements.

Those readers of a certain age will remember when any new half-decent songwriter came along the press of the day would more often than not tag them as the new Dylan. This supposed compliment was more often than not a millstone around the hopeful artist’s neck for the simple fact that no one could replace Bob Dylan, and being compared to him meant they had to work even harder to establish their own stylistic credibility with the listening public. Robert Vincent was faced with a contemporary take on this when he was called “the scouse Springsteen” a few years ago, but he has managed to overcome this challenge and is now recognised as one of the UK’s best songwriters irrespective of genre. His last album, 2020’s “In This Town You’re Owned”, won various awards including AMA UK and AUK’s Album of The Year, and looked at the various challenges faced by society. The pandemic meant that Robert Vincent had the time to reflect on his own experiences, and this reflection was the impetus for ‘Barriers’, which shows a much more personal aspect to his songwriting, The songs were recorded live in the studio with his core band in Liverpool with Jon Withnal at the helm, with producer and musician Ethan Johns on hand again to help bring a broader sound

The lead track, “The Insider”,  sets the agenda perfectly as Robert Vincent questions what is behind the rise in more authoritarian world leaders and what that may mean for individuals. The title track looks at why people build barriers to protect themselves that can then become permanent and prevent people from becoming who they could be. While this may sound rather serious subject matter the sound is beautifully arranged and quite joyous. Robert Vincent has always been noted for his vocals, but by ‘Anywhere’ you get the distinct impression that he is singing with even more confidence than ever before,  more than matching the production of the song. Breaking down barriers within a troubled relationship to try and find a peaceful future is the subject of “The Hard Way”.

 The new sound creates just the right haunting ambience for ‘The Beast In Me’. Piano and organ start “Lost Souls” with an uplifting guitar solo bringing a positive end to the track. There is a strong feeling of devastation about the love song ‘Circumstances Of Ignorance”. The guilt that we all share at not being the best people we can be is at the heart of “Burden”. There is a classic pop sound to the uplifting “Follow What You Love & Love Will Follow”. “Keeper Of My Heart”  was written with Ben Glover and is about finding love and the calming influence that can have, something the swaying rhythm of the tune invokes. The overall mood is maintained by “You Were Standing Right Before Me” before the album closes with the rustic “When We Sleep”.

If anyone has any lingering doubts about Robert Vincent’s standing as one of the best  British songwriters then a listen to “Barriers” should banish those doubts forever. He has shown another facet to his songwriting and has had the courage to broaden his sound which fits perfectly with the more personal approach to the songs. Existing fans will be pleased that he has continued to develop as an artist and hasn’t simply tried to repeat himself, “Barriers” is also of the quality to bring Robert Vincent to the attention of new listeners who are not necessarily fans of americana and folk, but appreciate quality songs beautifully performed and sung. Definitely a contender for album of the year 2024.


About Martin Johnson 415 Articles
I've been a music obsessive for more years than I care to admit to. Part of my enjoyment from music comes from discovering new sounds and artists while continuing to explore the roots of American 20th century music that has impacted the whole of world culture.
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