Friday, June 13, 2014

Mike Barnett: “Everybody Gets To Dream” (2014) CD Review

Mike Barnett’s new release, Everybody Gets To Dream, is full of early pop and rock and roll vibes and grooves. The music acts almost as a reclaiming of innocence. It’s music that makes life seem easy, a break from troubles. These are largely familiar sounds that sort of automatically connect to that part of your brain that is naturally optimistic. Not that these tracks are mindless feel-good ditties; they’re not. But the sounds, in general, are very positive.

“Who Loves You Blue,” the album’s first track, kicks off with a good old pop rhythm. It’s a very bright, positive-sounding tune, and I dig the guitar work during the brief instrumental section. I also appreciate the perspective of this song: “Halfway home/I start to fall/There’s no light to guide me through/There’s just me and you.”

As I mentioned, there’s a delightful innocence to the music, to the sound. And in “I Could Fall,” there’s a happiness, even as he sings lines like “I could cry, I could cry/I could cry myself to sleep at night.” The line I like the most is “I know I feel okay for the shape I’m in.” That line makes me smile each time I listen to this album. I also like this line: “I could learn a song that you might sing.”

“It Must Be Love” is a more mellow and pretty tune with an intimate feel. I like the sweet vibe of this song.

This album includes a Christmas song, “Merry Christmas To Me,” which has a nice, forceful, steady drum beat. It opens with these lines: “Christmas is the time of year for miracles, they say/And I just want you back with me/Yeah, back with me to stay/Merry Christmas to me.” I’m always on the lookout for Christmas songs that don’t suck (because most Christmas music is unbearable – I’m looking at you, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”). I’ve been compiling a Christmas playlist, and I plan to add this song to it. It’s a song of longing and promises during the holidays that is catchy and fun. Mike Barnett follows it with an even catchier song, “Heidi Surprise.”

“Everybody Gets To Dream,” the CD’s title track, is a more serious song, but still with a positive bent and message. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “You say you’ve got your troubles/You say you’ve got some pain/You wake up to a cloudy sky/And start to live again.”

"Locked The Door" is one of my favorites. It has more of a bittersweet feel to it, asking more questions than it can answer: “How did I get here?/How did love disappear?” All he’s sure of is the tear in his eyes. And yet the song still feels positive. It’s certainly far from a depressing sound. “Later on I might feel human/Who’s to say I'll get back to you/From now on I've learned my lesson/The truest love don't make it true.”

"Greenest Mississippi" is a song about a man found by the river with his gun by his side, obviously a slightly darker subject matter than most of these tracks. But it still has kind of an innocent sound, which is interesting because what it does is help create a distinction between the character singing and the character he sings about. It makes him take a look at his own life. "Could I alter my plan?"

CD Track List

  1. Who Loves You Blue
  2. I Could Fall
  3. Late At Night
  4. It Must Be Love
  5. Merry Christmas To Me
  6. Heidi Surprise
  7. Everybody Gets To Dream
  8. Push Me Away
  9. Stranger In My Own Skin
  10. Locked The Door
  11. Greenest Mississippi
  12. To You


Mike Barnett is on lead vocals and acoustic guitar. Musicians joining him on this release include Doug E. Rees on acoustic guitar; Salim Nourallah on bass, 12 string guitar, acoustic guitar and backing vocals; J. Paul Slavens on keyboards, piano, glockenspiel, accordion and mellotron; Joe Reyes on acoustic guitar, lead guitar, slide guitar, ukulele, tambourine, glockenspiel and backing vocals; and John Dufilho on drums and percussion.

Everybody Gets To Dream was released on May 15, 2014.

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