|Dave Barnes [Stories To Tell] | Posted March 11, 2012
GRAMMY®-nominated singer songwriter Dave Barnes’ new studio album, Stories To Tell features eleven new tracks produced by John Fields. Stories To Tell is Barnes’ fourth studio album for Razor & Tie and a first for Barnes on many levels. Stories To Tell presents a stylistic departure from his previous releases. Adding more programming and synth sounds than his previous albums, Stories To Tell did not suffer from rules and restrictions when it comes to instrumentation. Using orchestral accents, syncopated percussion alongside his soulful, impassioned vocals, the album introduces Barnes’ fans to eleven finely tuned and honestly crafted songs with a strong pop sound. Barnes’ last album, the 2010 release What We Want, What We Get, features the GRAMMY-nominated song “God Gave Me You.” Dave Barnes recently received his first GRAMMY nomination for Best Country Song for “God Gave Me You,” as performed by Blake Shelton from Shelton’s 2011 album Red River Blue. Barnes’ and Shelton’s versions of the song have sold over one million singles to date and the song has had enormous success at radio.
Stories To Tell opens with the super-catchy single “White Flag” which will immediately make you wish for a warm summer day and is a great anthem to play loudly with your windows down. Barnes is the consummate singer-songwriter and this is a perfectly crafted pop song, and he always includes at least one phrase that I connect with personally in his songs. In the opener, the bridge “forgiveness is the chorus of a rebel song and we belong” is the response to the pre-chorus, “I’m sorry, forgive me, just let me back inside your arms girl, forgive me, I’m sorry, this ain’t the way our love should go.” I’ve been married for almost eighteen years, and the “crazy cycle” of marriage is one that hinges on raising the “white flag” and asking for forgiveness. Just like in “God Gave Me You,” Barnes perfectly captures the marriage dynamic in a catchy song. The theme of forgiveness continues in the next song, “How Long.” Dave croons in the second verse, “forgiveness is a heavy promise, it’s a language that’s so hard to speak, I’m hearing whispers by the darkest voices, but I know what you mean to me…so much to me.” The chorus includes the imploring, “How long can we go on, barely living where nobody’s giving in, how long can we can on like this?” Dave is truly a craftsman to include such profound truth wrapped in a hooky melody.
Another single, "Mine To Love," addresses Dave singing about parenthood as he and his wife recently had their first child. The song is sung to his child, “By your side, let us be the ones you need…you are the answer to all those midnight prayers, you’re mine to love, we have all been waiting on you.” Parenthood is a gift to be cherished, and this tender and sweet song perfectly captures the emotion in the bridge: “Every time that my heart was broken, every time I lost my way, I forget when I look into your face, you’re mine to love.” Having three young daughters, I can totally relate to that unconditional love relationship with my children. The album flows with more signature folk-pop style songs, all about love and life, with “Heaven Help Us” and “Love Will Be Enough For Us” including more relatable references. I truly enjoy the ability to insert myself into just about every song on this extremely catchy album. The song that breaks the mold a bit is the stirring “Seventeen.” The story-song will have you hanging on every word as Dave perfectly captures the raw emotion of the song in the first person. “Missing You” also addresses regret over a relationship issue including Dave’s telling listeners, “take it from one who knows.” "Stories To Tell” has a great chorus: “There’s life to be lived, stories to tell, lessons to learn, we don’t know yet, nothing like looking back knowing that we lived it well, with stories to tell” which sums up the themes of this album perfectly. “One Of Us” closes out the story-telling with more catchy and relatable lyrics addressed to Dave’s son. The tender lullaby song perfectly captures the emotions of parenthood.
Stories To Tell by Dave Barnes is loaded with honestly crafted songs with a strong pop sound. There are songs for those who are hurting, have regrets and want to express their emotions. Just like “God Gave Me You,” this album expresses the impassioned feelings of someone who puts into words and catchy melodies the everyday experiences of life, love and heartbreak. I find myself singing many of these songs in my head throughout the day. The songs invite you into Dave’s life and leave you with the desire to better express your emotions to your loved ones. Dave’s lyrical “gourmet” phrasing in his relatable and catchy songs has established him as the pre-eminent folk style singer-songwriter in the business.
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