If I had to describe Tim Barry in one word, that word would be “real”. This former punk rocker turned folk rock hero is about as real as they get and I am not just saying that. He is a talented musician and a wholesome human who just lives life day by day. Barry, who used to front the legendary Richmond punk rock act Avail, has been going his own route since about 2004 playing solo shows all over the world.
In his fifth release, 40-Miler, Barry seemingly has taken his acoustic guitar and played from his hard-working heart. The album was put out by Chucksaah Records.
It’s an honest and to the point album where Barry talks about his previous involvements in bands, travels, and personal reflections on the life he has lived. The album leans more country driven than that of past releases by the man known to hitch rides on trains the old-fashioned way. The result is hands down his best release I have ever heard to date. It is safe to say that Barry may have created his own masterpiece without even thinking about it.
“Wezeltown” starting off the album with a soulful yet poignant Barry declaring “I pity the beautiful as the beautiful, they do pity me.” Fueled by hand-clapping and realization, this song was more than an opening track, it was a preach aimed at all the hardworking folk out there who don’t take everything for granted. “Driver Pull” was more like a personal conversation between the listener and Barry on a front porch moments before he hitches a ride out of town.
The title track “40-Miler” continued with the Barry’s storytelling and did not disappoint. Reminiscing about his traveling times in boxcars and tour vans, Barry also states he has “nothing but miles and miles” to continue on. I especially loved when Barry declared ” I’d rather stay broke than play fake ass shows.”
“Adele and Hell” was heavy on the country rock and perfect in every way. The duet between Barry and longtime friend and local Richmond recording artist Julie Karr was a match made in heaven. Karr gets down on this track with Barry that sings about a broken relationship. The harmonica playing aside the twangy guitar accompanies the signing so well. Hands down, this is one of the better tracks on the album. I was floored when I heard it.
Barry pays tribute one of his bad ass friends who plays in Lucero as well as in Glossary in the track titled “T. Beene”. This track, to me, was the country answer to NOFX’s “Punk Guy” with Barry recalling some crazy ass memories of a talented man who had lead an interesting life.
My favorite track on the album, “Fine Foods Market”, actually pokes fun at Barry as well as many of his fans who have “ironic mustaches” and drink PBR. I loved when Barry sung “oh look there goes another hipster kid”. He may have been making fun about everything, but was also quick to wonder how it all came about.
“Amen” was another amazing track full of Barry’s personal attributions and thanks accompanied by harmonica and acoustic guitar. From singing about breaking his hand in Ottawa to almost making it to every scheduled show, Barry sang about his life on the road and even admitted sometimes he would rather just be home. I especially got a kick out of the part where he praised a certain New Jersey band for letting him hitch a ride on their tour bus. It was not just a song sung, it was a celebration of all the hard work Barry has ever done. “Kick me in the head, watch me get right back up again” ends the album as almost a promise from Barry proving he is in this for the long run.
In a recent interview I did with Barry, he stated he actually erased 40-Miler from his he memory once it was completed. He said , “when I am done with an album I step away from it. This helps me gain perspective and hear it freshly.” He called it a “recording detox” and continued with, “I never have an intention with my albums. They come out the way they come out.” How can you not love this man?
Tim Barry is currently touring in support of 40-Miler. It is not a show to be missed.