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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 in family jam sessions with his father, who had played in a band that opened for the Doors and the Beach Boys, and his big brother. At 15, Barnes began playing around Louisville, KY, with a few bands. Around the time he was 18, after being inspired by the imagery of Songs of Leonard Cohen and other emotionally provocative artists like Low, Tom Waits, and Gillian Welch, Barnes created a demo with the hopes of making music that was akin to a comforting dream. He shopped his homemade CD around to a handful of labels and then went off to play some shows with After the Panic. When he returned, he received a response from Brian John Mitchell at Silber.
Mitchell signed the fledgling artist, despite the fact that Barnes had a considerably different sound than most of the label's droning noise-rock bands, which include Origami Arktika, Clang Quartet, and Remora. In 2003, before Barnes was 20, Silber released his lo-fi debut album, The Fallen Acrobat, which he had recorded in his bedroom over the course of a year. In 2006, Barnes followed his debut with the more complex and rewarding Honey from the Ribcage. This release displayed a more orchestrated and personal approach to songwriting, with underlying tones of questioned spirituality and distress. "Second Guess My Own" illustrates how he lost several years from his life due to a memory loss, and "Red Prescription" is about his battle with the prescription drugs that caused that memory loss. Here, his lyrics often act as a diary tracking his fears and life-altering events, simultaneously drawing parallels to the biblical story of Samson. After this record, Barnes relocated to the Pink Bullet label; The Recalibrated Heart, a fuller album that continued to follow his spiritual journey into the intimate realms of self-produced bedroom recording, arrived in 2007.