Robby Ray (vocals), Clifton Conrad (bass/vocals), Mike Santarelli (guitar), Adam Moyer (guitar/ keys/vocals) and Brandon Reber (percussion) are The Barren Wells. The band is comprised of old high school friends who came together for their love of music. They took a six-year break from their full-length LP and returned with a three-song EP entitled Jalapeño.
Their music is a nice mix of closely related genres including Americana, country, rock and bluegrass. They get going with “Karma” and the music reminded me of old school Americana like John Mellencamp and Tom Petty. The other band that came to mind was the Counting Crows because the lead singer reminded me of Adam Duritz. As the song progresses it builds to a crescendo resulting in a celebratory vibe. The melodies are catchy and easy to appreciate.
The band really plays into a classic bluegrass rhythm on “Wildest Dreams.” It’s the rhythm section that is mostly responsible for this as the guitars rely on reverb-laced lead work. The energy is fun and festive. Ray really sounds great here. The vocals are a little pained but also hopeful. There are also some fantastic vocal harmonies in there as well.
“Bones” is another slight deviation. My mind went to Rusted Root with this song. It’s almost tribal with the rhythms it explores at times but it is also backed by an alt-country vibe as well.
The band does show their diversity with these songs. I got the feeling that these guys really rip it up live. It seemed like they were going for a live sound. That being said I wanted a little more clarity in the mix at times.
Overall, I thought this EP showcased their talent as well as the energy of their live shows. I’m look forward to hearing more.
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