Mature sounding album number three from The Saints and their prolific main man.
Jeb Barry, the driving force behind The Pawn Shop Saints, is nothing if not a prolific songwriter. On top of his work for The Saints, which includes songwriting, production and recording responsibilities, he has said to have penned in excess of four thousand songs and, although based in New England, Barry is a regular performer in Nashville.
The Pawn Shop Saints have been described as playing sparse, weary, hard dirt Americana so it comes as a surprise when opening track ‘Chevy Nova (That ‘70s Song)’ hits you with a twangy, catchy guitar hook and takes us on a ride of reminiscence, to memories of youth and first loves ‘17 in the 70s, wasn’t as cool as we thought it’d be.’
Barry follows up this with his best unintentional Ricky Ross impersonation on ‘Stop Breaking Your Heart’, a simple, melodic slow rocker built around a terrific organ riff from Alan Taylor and features, as indeed does most of the album, some short but memorable guitar bursts from Barry himself. It is, at well under 3 minutes, a criminally short but extremely sweet track.
The first two tracks may seem to belie that PR description of the band but the album settles then into something that fits much more neatly into that category. Barry’s vocals have a growl to them and the songs develop darker undertones both lyrically and musically.
‘Exits’ opens with ‘If life’s a highway I’m just a wreck off the side of the road, I’m too lost to give a shit.’ Recorded live in the studio with minimal acoustic accompaniment and vocal overdubs it has a protagonist reflecting on a life that hasn’t quite turned out as well as hoped. Barry typically though opts against the side of understatement and goes full frontal ‘If I decided to disappear doubt I’d be missed.’
Even ‘Diane’, with its catchy acoustic slide and layered guitars that suggest an altogether happier tone has an underlying sadness at its heart “I’m dying to ask you, to see, if you know, why this world, is so mean…..I’ve got no friends, nothing to do so, I’ve got plenty of time to bleed.’
‘Ride My Galaxy’ is album number three for The Pawn Shop Saints and the fact that there is a confidence and maturity running through the heart of the album should come as no surprise when Barry’s prolific past is factored in. Americana for grown-ups then but, and here’s a whole new can of worms, isn’t it always?