Gordon Barry is a singer/songwriter from Co.Wexford. His music is best described as a mixture of country, blues, and alternative folk. Already in his career, he has performed with an array of different music artists and has featured in publications such as the Wall Street Journal (Yep, that’s really impressive!), and Ireland’s very own Hotpress Magazine.
Prior to the release which we are about to review, Gordon Barry released his debut EP ‘Sojourning’ in 2014 and went on to complete a tour of New York. While there, Gordon met renowned country artist Steve Earle, who invited him to take up a scholarship role at his school for songwriters in the Appalachian Mountains. Earle has gone on to say that Gordon is the best songwriter that’s come out of Camp Copperhead.
From the debut EP, Gordon went on to release his debut album in 2017, entitled ‘The Best Way To Kill A Monster’. The first single from the elbum, ‘Devil & St. Jesus’, went on to win top prize for lyrics at The 2017 International Songwriting Competition in Nashville. This is a prestigious annual event which is judged by some high profile names such as Tom Waits, Lorde, Rickie Lee Jones and many more, It is an impressive feat for Barry to have won this award, as only two other Irish artists have ever won this before.
On the 2nd of October, Gordon Barry released his latest EP ‘All The Live Long Year’, alongside the release of his single ‘Roll With The Punches’ from the same EP. ‘All The Live Long Year’ is composed of four tracks, each very different to the other but at the same time, each sticks to the country, folk sound he is best known for. The EP deals with themes such as love, loss and life and uses a mixture of deep lyrics and vivid imagery to create an entirely relatable collection of tracks.
The first track from this EP, ‘Old Fashioned Morphine’ was by far my favourite of the four. It is a cover of Jolie Holland’s song but personally, I prefer Barry’s version. The song is very easy to listen to, with a repetitive chorus and a simple, country sound. Gordon’s voice suits the song really well and despite the simplicity of the song, it flaunts his vocal range thoroughly.
The second track, ‘My Name is Never’, is definitely brighter sounding than the opening song! Once again, it is a relaxing, uncomplicated composition, filled with bluesy sounds and a very recognisable slide guitar, which compliments the song perfectly. I’ve always had a bit of a penchant for slide guitar sounds and I think it fit so well into ‘My Name Is Never’. The song seems to be about what may have been, a bittersweet ode to the ‘What if’s?’. (‘You won’t find me, i’ll be gone by dawn is what I said to you all along, I think you know my name, my name is Never’).
‘Ghost Of A River’ has a very typical folk based sound to it with hints of bluegrass thrown in for good measure. I did really like the instrumental in this song but of the four, it was probably the one that appealed to me the least. The spectral imagery portrayed in the lyrics was done really well however, with the repetition of ‘A long black veil goes over your eyes, the ghost of a river runs by your side’
The final song of the EP, Roll With The Punches’, was also released as a single on the 2nd of October. It’s clear to see why this song was chosen to be released separately also, as it is a stunning arrangement of honest, raw lyrics and haunting instrumentals. The line ‘Sometimes the hard things are easy to leave’ stuck with me even after the song had ended. The song seems to be reminiscent of Barry’s younger years and leaving behind his home and what was essentially the easy life.
‘All The Live Long Year’ is a really well put together EP with striking lyrics and beautiful instrumentals. You can listen to it now on all good streaming platforms!