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Album Review

Richard Davies' third solo effort is the most straightforward guitar-pop record he's produced to date — stripped of the orchestral flourishes of his early work, as well as the psych-folk textures of the previous Telegraph, Barbarians instead favors a simple yet nuanced approach which nevertheless cuts a wide stylistic path spanning from dark, ominous garage-rock ("Great Republic") to feather-light acoustic balladry (the gorgeous "Stars"). From the Uncle Sam stars-and-stripes stovepipe hat which adorns the cover to name-checks of everything from the Rio Grande to Lewis & Clark to NASA, Barbarians is a pointed, if often abstract, meditation on Davies' adopted home of America — many of the songs touch on themes of exploration and migration, yet despite his obvious gifts for rich, poetic wordplay, the lyrics don't really add up to much when taken as a whole. Still, given time, Davies' lazily ingratiating melodies take hold, and the record's relaxed, spontaneous atmosphere evokes a nonchalance ideally suited to its understated ambitions.


Born: 1964 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australi

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Australian-born singer-songwriter Richard Davies formed the chamber-pop unit the Moles in Sydney in the late 1980s after growing disenchanted with studying law; concluding that he preferred composing poetry to writing essays for his class assignments, he soon began crafting his first songs. After finding some underground success in their native land as well as the U.S. and Britain, the Moles broke up around the beginning of 1993; Davies soon settled in New York City to begin a solo career, although...
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Barbarians, Richard Davies
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