Tim Barry’s third studio effort, 28th & Stonewall, was released a couple of weeks ago and Romeo and I have been exchanging thoughts on it ever since. We did it through Google Wave, and now I am gonna attempt to assemble those thoughts into a concise and tight piece that does the album the justice it deserves, though perhaps “deserves” is too weak of a word. 28th and Stonewall, like Tim’s albums before and the man himself, doesn’t just sit back and take what’s coming. It steams forward, taking its respect and beating you into submission with raw power and honest emotion.

The first two tracks from the album that were released are “Thing of the Past” and “Memento Mori”. “Thing of the Past” is a highly produced, upbeat track about the excess and materialism of society and Tim’s aversion to it, while “Memento Mori” is a much more raw glimpse into the psyche of Tim, with a musical backing that firmly embraces Tim’s punk background. These two songs got me to thinking, and as I said to RSV, “I think Tim should just stop giving his albums titles. They should just be, ‘The Tao of Tim Barry Vol. 1 (2,3,4, etc.)’…They’re like self-help books put to music.” Romeo was in full agreement, adding, “I can see that. They are not ‘albums’ as much as they are sort of a journey through Tim’s mind at the time. With this one we start out with a juke and jive on “Thing of the Past”, slip into some damn serious anger with “Prosser’s Gabriel”, slide into N’awlins groove with “Will Travel”, head into some talking blues with “Downtown Blues“, and then close it out with the tongue-in-cheek “Bus Driver”. It’s more like a stream of consciousness session than an album in the traditional sense, but most of his are like that.” My understanding is that 28th and Stonewall was written and recorded in a 3 week stint while Tim was off the road. I think that style of immediacy really helps lend to the explosion of thoughts, anger, philosophy and emotion that have so defined Tim’s sound throughout the years.

While much about Tim’s new album follows his usual modus operandi, it is not without growth. As I touched on earlier, “Thing of the Past” is the most radio friendly (worthy!) song Tim’s ever put out, replete with a stellar production and catchy hooks, not to mention the addition of new instruments throughout the album such as…horns? What? Yup. The new Tim Barry album has horns. I find this especially amusing following all the scuttlebutt about the horns on the new Lucero album. During my conversation with RSV I said, “I mean, it won’t get nearly the run that the new Lucero did but, Hey Y’all…the new Tim Barry album has horns! I think the horns and strings in some of the tracks really do a lot to support the songs instead of (like with Lucero) becoming a focal point of the songs.” RSV agreed adding, “It’s more subtle than the Lucero addition, but it seems to stand out more. I think this is because Tim’s stuff was so much more stripped down than Lucero’s to begin with. It’s a bigger jump, but Tim did it with a whole damn lot of style. I mean, “Will Travel” is totally a N’awlin’s closing time song. It’s more than horns, though, it’s that delta blues piano, the way the horns are dirty and wandering, and the fullness of the whole addition.”

So this bears the question, is this the best Tim Barry album to date? Admittedly, I wasn’t a fan of Manchester when it came out. It really took seeing Tim live for me to “get it”, after which I went back and listened to Manchester again, falling head over heels in love, and ditto for his back catalog. But when it comes to asking if this is his “best” album to date, I keep coming up with “yes” and I really can’t envision an end of the year Top 5 list in this genre that wouldn’t have this album on it. However, when I asked RSV where he thought it slotted, he was a little more pensive, replying, “I am torn on it. It may be odd, but the top of my list right now is Laurel St. Demo, but 28th and Stonewall isn’t any less amazing. It may take some time, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it ended up my favorite Tim Barry album at least until the next one. I also don’t see a top 5 without this one in it either. It’s only February but everyone else has a long way to go to catch up with Tim. I have high hopes for some, but I think this album will be in rarefied company come December.”

Ranking within the Barry discography aside, there is little doubt that 28th & Stonewall is Essential Listening and a sure shot for a Top 5 album of the year slotting for me. Good luck with the other four slots, music world.

Tim Barry – Thing of the Past
Tim Barry – Memento Mori
Tim Barry – Downtown VCU

Tim Barry’s Official Site, Tim Barry on myspace, Buy 28th & Stonewall

10 thoughts on “TIM BARRY – 28TH & STONEWALL”

  1. Finally some love for the laural st demo!!! My personal favorite. But yes, this new album is solid jams. I’m into it more than the last album. And I even like the songs with horns. “speed on before you get peed on…” – tim barry.

  2. Tim Barry is supposed to be with Against Me! in St Pete next weekend at the State Theatre…but you probably already knew that. I streamed this new CD at work the other day…which wasn’t exactly a great idea. 🙂

  3. Thanks guys for spending some time with Tim’s new album; like you mentioned it is hard to pick a favorite Tim Barry album. On most days, this is my favorite although Manchester is hard to beat.

    Tim is touring like crazy this year so go out and see him. Seeing him live takes all of this to a whole other level.

  4. i bought this album the day it came out and like all barry’s records, was hooked immediately. in the last month actually bought a couple of avail’s records, which are stellar.

    the new album has my second favorite tim barry track, ‘short g’bye’, love the first line. my favorite track is ‘dog bumped.’ would love to see him live, feel like it would “take all of this to whole other level.” it would be awesome to get more of the suburban home artists out to old missoula, montana. we are struggling with live shows out here.

    very impressive record to say the least. oh yeah and i dig on the horns as i did on 1372 overton park.


  5. This new album is amazing, Moving on Blue is a song that really struck me. Really looking forward to seeing Tim in thew spring.

  6. This is battling with Laurel St as my favorite Tim album as well.

    The first time I heard Will Travel my first thought was “WTF, no one warned me about this!”. That being said, I love that bluesy bar style and it might be my favorite on the album for that reason.

    I can’t wait to hear this album live when it’s stripped down and the crowd sings along.

  7. The sign of a great set for me is Tim unplugging the guitar and just walking into the crowd to play. always amazing.

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