Album Review: Barney Barnett – Small Stones

Barney Barnett is a musician from South Wales who creates amazing rock songs that have infectious lyrics, loud guitars and the occasional saxophone, making his music sound quite diverse! I managed to get hold of his latest album, Small Stones, which sounds truly epic!

By Jane Howkins

There are eleven songs on Small Stones, with Prima Donna kicking things off. The track slowly builds up, with some intense guitar melodies and backing vocals, before the song kicks in proper. It’s heavy in a classic rock sense, with lots of melody provided by the guitars and Barney’s vocals.

Wanderlust starts off a little slower, with an acoustic guitar accompanying the electric guitar motifs. Barney’s vocals really shine through here, soaring over the luscious fingerpicked melodies. Later, the track explodes in an ocean of sound and energy, bringing the tempo back up again.

More Whiskey exudes cool, with a sense of rock and roll attitude running throughout. One of the things I really loved about this song were the vocal harmonies on the chorus, sounding like a haunting choir at times.

No Favours has a more garage rock feel to things, with the guitar chords and production style suiting this genre well. It’s slightly slower than the previous songs, seeing Barney singing in glorious style over the fuzzy guitar licks.

Live This Way starts with an immense riff, before the verses quieten down again. The dynamics change quite a bit on this track, making it sound more diverse. The guitar melodies and the throbbing bass running underneath the music really make the music fantastic.

Thicker Than Water is one of the catchiest songs on the entire album, with a guitar riff that sounds like it could also suit a song within the punk genre. The saxophone plays a lovely motif after the chorus, adding a distinctive vibe to things, with a cool guitar solo appearing near the end.

The vocal harmonies that start off Superhuman are gorgeous – this is one of the things that Barney is most talented in creating. It’s one of the slower tracks on the album, sounding like a ballad at times – it’s got that classic 80s rock ballad feel to it.

Hold On brings the tempo back up again, exploding in a burst of sound, with a colossal saxophone solo mixing well with the guitars. The chugging guitar melodies build up into the chorus, which sounds positively anthemic.

The Busy Crew is another track with a punky vibe, as the fast tempo suggests. Barney’s vocals actually have something of a pop-punk quality to them, especially with the gorgeous harmonies he offers up to the world, so the catchy punk notes fit very nicely with his voice.

The title track, Small Stones, starts out in a mellower fashion, with a mid-tempo guitar riff playing nicely alongside Barney’s vocals. It’s more poppy than a lot of the other tracks on the album, adding a different kind of flavour to things.

Pure is the last song, closely things nicely with an acoustic guitar melody. This serves to highlight Barney’s vocals, being a lot softer than the rest of the album. However, this changes on the chorus, with the electric guitars appearing once more, sounding epic. It’s a great track to round the album out in style.

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