It’s not very often in this day and age where the piano is the focal instrument for a band that for a lack of a better word plays alternative pop. There is a surplus of bands that have keys on their roster but the keys seem just to support the music and play second fiddle to an instrument like the guitar. It was refreshing to not only hear clean, straight piano on the album by Just Walden but to hear it at the center of songs not unlike those of Billy Joel or Elton John songs. It gave the songs an energy that felt both contemporary as well as nostalgic. It also doesn't hurt that that Danny Ferraro is a technical master who writes creative parts that often made me do a double take a couple of times.
There are fourteen songs on High Street Barton Blues, which may seem hefty but there are a number of songs that are only one-to-two minutes long that make it go by quickly. The majority of the songs fit nice and snug into an alternative pop category but they throw out a couple of songs that are experimental and even have a classical feel to them. That being said when the band is on they bring some very accessible, well-written tunes that are bound to get stuck in your head.
The album starts with a short but good instrumental piece entitled “Marrow Of Life” before going into one of the album’s highlights entitled “Romie Knows.” “Romie Knows” revolves around a circular piano melody, distorted lead guitar and organic drums that provide a heavy, steady beat that sometimes sounds like a house beat. The band is on point and delivers a well-crafted song that could easily be their single.
“Space Cadet” has a bit more melancholy and had some elements of Bowie on there and not just because of the name. Don’t miss the musical outro on this one. “Hole In The Head” felt like the most commercially viable song on the album and “Full Body Tattoo” has some welcome acoustic guitar.
The album’s one-off experimental number is “Spare Keys.” It is an almost psychedelic piece that has scattered vocals, drums and a number of interesting elements. Isolated the song works but in the context of the previous material it’s a bit jarring. They return with another solid pop song “Viviana Blue” before closing the album with an instrumental piece.
Overall High Street Barton Blues is mighty impressive and showcases a band that has a good amount of talent. There is still a little bit tweaking that needs to be done here and there but most of it sounds good to my ears.
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