A few months ago, my friend Barris handed me a CD and said, “Give this a listen and let me know what you think.” He told me that it was a personal project he had been working on for a long time, and he was planning to release it soon. I was honored to receive one of the first copies.
So the next morning I slid the CD into my soon-to-be-antiquated laptop disc drive and proceeded to do my work to the sound of Barris’ album—“Rumors of War.”
As I checked my email and performed a handful of random tasks, I kept getting distracted by the music. Every time a new track would start, I had to stop for about twenty seconds and think, Am I listening to the same album as before?
This is a good thing, by the way. There are some albums that you can play from start to finish and only after the music stops do you realize that you heard every song. There are artists who have locked in on a very specific sound are content to keep working with those same ingredients over and over again. I don’t want uniformity when I listen to an album (unless it’s a concept album, but that’s a whole different animal); I want to feel like the artist is exploring lots of different ways of saying what he or she wants to say. Even the best Beatles albums reflect a lot of different sensibilities and influences (there is probably no better example of this than The White Album).
What I most appreciated about “Rumors of War” is that all of the tracks reveal a broad pallet. I’ve know Barris for a long time, and I know that he listens to pretty much everything—that he appreciates lots of different styles and sounds when it comes to music. Of course, it’s one thing to like lots of different kinds of music (I can do that myself), but it’s a whole other ballgame to try and create something that projects a variety of sounds and influences. “Rumors of War” does exactly that.
There is certainly a Classic Rock influence here, but it would be reductive to limit the album to that descriptor. There is also a whiff of Metal (specifically in seventh track, “Bad Bad Blood”), as well as a little bit of something that reminds me of the Stray Cats or the Old 97’s (specifically in the sixth track, “Stop the World”). However, in spite of its clear influences, “Rumors of War” is its own entity. It copies nothing, but it is reflective of a life lived in appreciation of great musicians.
Don’t get me wrong, the album is consistent—it does not deviate from its overall vision. However, within that consistency there is also great diversity. It’s a tough needle to thread, but somehow Barris has done it.
The consistency is found within the mood of the album; there is a specific intentionality, as if the songwriter is trying to take us somewhere with him. You can almost close your eyes and picture the wheels of a car spinning furiously down a long stretch of desert highway. Come to think of it, this would probably a good album to take on a road trip.
My personal favorite tracks are “Time With You” (Track 2), “Be Set Free” (Track 3), “Kleptomaniac” (Track 5), and “Carlotta Dance” (Track 9).
Click here to visit The Hi-Fi Nomads' website or to order the album