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The Recalibrated Heart

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Album Review

Jamie Barnes' third album continues in his established vein of reflective, accomplished folk-rock recorded at home — and if the evidence of opening track "Vampire Movie" is any indication, his ear for excellent self-production has only improved. From his warm voice to the way the piano softly nestles in the corner of the mix, this is as far from the rough-edged world of lo-fi as can be imagined, and if that's an aesthetic crime in some minds, more importantly it demonstrates that the ability to create an elegant, high-end album is no longer the realm of an overpriced studio. Once again being his own one-man band — the one guest appearance on "Day That Cuts Till Dawn" is John Burgess Ross on mandolin and accordion — Barnes' compositions effortlessly suggest contemplative warmth, spiritual ruminations and calm storytelling with hints of drama. It can be in the way that songs can suddenly end, or Barnes' ear for a great arrangement (check out the pure Lee Hazlewood theatrics on "Hell's Adopted Mile"). Sometimes it's all in the absolutely gripping subject matter — "Song for the Mofa Seven," discussing the attempts of a group of North Korean refugees who desperately tried and failed to gain asylum, and who have since gone missing after arrest in China, is all the more harrowing for its absolute, gentle calm. Occasionally some moments can be a bit abstruse — "Conflict Diamond" is an evocative phrase but doesn't quite succeed at the balance of winsome and mystic it would in the hands of, say, Marc Bolan. But these are small concerns set aside the lovely flow of the album — Barnes is building a quiet but notable legacy with his work, and The Recalibrated Heart is another strong success.


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s

Most of Jamie Barnes' laid-back indie folk is highly personal work that incorporates religious imagery, love notes, and internal struggles. With a strong aptitude for learning instruments by ear, he includes a wide variety of small household instruments like toy piano, xylophone, flute, tabla, and glockenspiel in his bedroom recordings, but generally builds his songs around his soothing voice and a lone acoustic guitar. Barnes picked up his first guitar at age 11, and began sharpening his skills...
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The Recalibrated Heart, Jamie Barnes
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