4th album holds weight

As published in the Berkshire Eagle, September 25, 2011

Record Review: Carry Us On. Barefoot Truth. Barefoot Truth (label), http://www.barefoottruth.comBFT_Stairs1_Textured

Barefoot Truth’s fourth album, “Carry Us On,” finds the band bursting with experience from a successful year on the road and eager to share what they’ve learned. Lyrics dripping with optimism, young love, true friendship, and homecoming combing with expanded musical horizons to create a celebration of life’s little ups and downs. And that celebration seems to have spread quite rapidly: The album climbed to No. 10 on the iTunes rock charts almost immediately after its release on Sept. 6.

An independent band, Barefoot Truth has thus far avoided pigeonholing itself into any particular genre, describing themselves as a “roots-rock-funky-folk-groove machine” on their Facebook fan page.

It may seem like a silly label at first, but it is actually extremely accurate. With five members coming from diverse musical backgrounds and educations, the group seems incapable of sticking to just one sound at a time, and their fourth album speaks to the ever-evolving unique brand they’ve crafted for themselves over the years.

Long-time fans will recognize a few tracks from the band’s 2005 album, “Changes in the Weather,” when the band first started out with just two members, Jay Driscoll and Will Evans. These tracks, including “Roll If You Fall,” “The Ocean,” “Changes in the Weather.” and “Drink to You,” have remained true to their original forms, only now with a much fuller sound created by added instrumentation and backup vocals. It’s gratifying to hear  how the band has grown both in talent and sound since the first versions of these songs were released.

“Carry Us On” kicks off with feel-good track “Roll If You Fall.” Reminiscent of Acoustic Junction, the song features a poppy beat, light guitar picking, and a message of staying positive in the face of life’s little bumps in the road. The first track also showcases the band’s talent for layering sound. Both instrumental and vocal lines build and intersect throughout the course of the song, resulting in an all-out party at the end. The outcome is not a raucous sound, however, but a perfect blend of roots- and folk-rock. You could almost pull it apart into two separate songs.

Fans of Dispatch and Sublime will definitely enjoy the reggae-laiden “Eagle Front,” featuring horns and the unmistakable hesitation beat prominent in reggae. The lyrics are, appropriately so, all about a love for music, rhythm and its power over our bodies and lives — an homage to Bob Marley if there ever was one.

Meanwhile, fans of bands like moe. and Umphrey’s McGee can rock out to the funky roots-rock track “Reelin’,” which features a didgeridoo and vocal break-down section.

Speaking of instrumentation, Barefoot Truth doesn’t fail to present its talented lineup in all its groovy glory on their new release. On “The Ocean,” a bouncy tune with fun lyrics, Pittsfield native Andy Wrba delivers a sexy bass jam solo, while Garrett Duffy shows off his impressive harmonic playing. And “Solitude,” a country-rock song with hints of honky-tonk here and there, features the always-energetic and never-dull piano playing of John “Wayno” Waynelovich, who studied music at nearby Westfield State College, front and center.

Two standout tracks on “Carry Us On” are also two of the most moving. “Reach” is a song of encouragement from one friend to another, repeating the lyric “We can make it through together.” Cellos, violins, and other strings swell and diminish, creating an uplifting and comforting feeling. “Changes in the Weather,” while very relaxed, is also quite dramatic. A personal story of life’s ever-changing tides, the song is universally relatable and also features classical strings, though more prominently. It’s one of those songs that you could listen to over and over and still find yourself emotionally lifted each time it fades out.

Barefoot Truth has shown that an indie band with a grassroots following can and will succeed on their own. Of course, how can they not succeed with a sound all their own and the talent to back it up? And with the universal quality of “Carry Us On,” attracting a diverse pool of fans, that success is bound to only grow from here on out.