After a “knackering weekend” Devizes music scene’s gentle giant rests up, prepping for All Roads Lead to Frome on Saturday, where he’s one of twenty acts to be thrown onto the Cheese & Grain’s stage. He sends me Relevance, new single, out tomorrow (30th August) telling he’s “been sitting on it for like, two years, never got round to recording it, and over the summer hols I just thought; you really should give this a go, otherwise it’s just a stopper in the pipe.”
Have to rub some stubble, yes, literally have a number of them myself. Often apposite to stockpile ideas, but creative tend to doubt them the longer they linger. Yet every now and then, your scrapbook is worth browsing, dust off a rough and finish it.
“Exactly,” Mike agrees, “it’s one of those things I just needed to get off the mental shelving you know? Not a clear-out, because it’s no good, but more like; stop resting on my laurels and progress!”
Pardon the pun, but relevance to that conviction, doubled with the notion he confesses nerves writing, recording, mixing and releasing this solo single by himself for the first time, Relevance is not only Mike on his best behaviour, it’s a prodigious single, emotive and fuller than anything you may previous have heard from Mr Barham.
Maintaining those grating bluesy vocals, for those familiar with his fiery debut album, Altitude with Attitude, expect later, acoustic tracks Signal Fires or Short, Never Forgotten rather than the blast of Bowser’s Castle or The Cider Song. Yet, think more evocative and shadier, a ripened Mike Barham, perhaps, after all we were talking about last week down the Southgate too, Mr B!
“It’s a bit of a mellower direction,” he describes, “reflective but no less direct lyrically I feel, sort of a City and Colour/Death Cab for Cutie vibe, very simplistic with just vocal, acoustic and one electric for texture.” It works for me, I envision Phil Cooper tipping his porkpie hat to its expressive maturity, and Jamie R Hawkins nodding approval at its narrative too.
Alongside working with his band Nerve Endings on some recorded material, here’s a poignant solo single which stamps Mike firmly on scene. If it’s with Nerve Endings, or solo, Mike Barham will entertain a crowd, undoubtedly, but here’s something with more universal appeal. Least I reckon, you’ll have to hear it for yourself.
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