After a long year of burning a hole through the same three songs, The Barrowdowns are feeding us some fresh goods with the release of their first full album, ‘Come What May Come’. The album includes the three (point five) songs from their first eponymous EP that been reworked, and a bunch more, it’s all The Barrowdowns that we’ve been waiting for.
There’s going to be some strong bias here. This is a band we’ve gone out of our way to catch as many times as possible (with varying degrees of success). They’re a fairly regular staple in our festival diet; that happy folksy afternoon band that’s dancy enough to kickstart the party. It’s all interweaving banjo and fiddle melodies, harmonies for days, and a sufficient bounce to the beat that even my feet can follow.
‘Come What May Come’ gives us a chance to hear songs the band have been touring a while in a solid state, and some rearrangements on their classic trio. ‘Landlocked’, The Barrowdowns’ bread and butter, reverses its role to make an appearance as an opener. Similarly to ‘House of Bones’ and ‘A Living Wage’ they’ve all been worked over for a fuller, more layered arrangements. The songs are similar enough to their originals to put them into the same category as when your mother asks you what you think of her new hair style after you failed to remark on it the first two days. You might not have noticed, but love them all the same.
Aside from revisiting some old favourites what stands out on the album is some of the newer tracks. While The Barrowdowns may happily fit the epitome of beautiful and haunting (if we might forgive the cliche), they’ve embraced a slight edge to some of their songs. There’s an underlying current of unrest that’s come to the surface, with songs like ‘A Snowball In Hell’, or ‘Do What You Won’t’ as Barrowdowns’ multi-instrumentalist Dave Fultz saws away on the topic of morality.
Other songs, like the tour favourite ‘Boat’ gently sway away in that habitually haunting Barrowdowns’ fashion, while ‘Mockingbird‘ and ‘Metal Shoes’ manage to bridge this new spectrum.
Much of the strength of ‘Come What May Come’ rides on the development of Rowan Walker as a singer. With the full album behind them, and more opportunities to showcase their talent, the experience of a live show is more readily apparent. Rowan’s voice stands out as an instrument that dominates over his folksy accompaniment. There’s a strength and uniqueness unmistakeable against the interwoven backdrop of banjo and violin, and I’d bet a good many other singers.
‘Come Way May Come’ offers a diverse range well beyond what their previous EP might have hinted it, but it’s unquestionably more of The Barrowdowns we love.
“This album gracefully transitions from moments of subtle beauty and organized chaos, highly recommended!” – Dillon Anthony
“I give this album 4.5 stars out 4. No, wait… 17 stars out of 12. No… More stars than there are on the American flag. That’s the one. 52 stars out of 5.” – Stephen Lewis