July 17, 2012 - East Grand
As Dropkick Murphys’ founding guitarist, Rick Barton has a pedigree in rousing, fist-in-the-air rock. He was also a member of ’80s Boston punks the Outlets and, more recently, Everybody Out!—which is to say, Barton’s been around the block a few times. He showcases the tricks he’s learned on these baker’s dozen punkabilly tracks. It sounds a lot like a Mike Ness album only with less country and better lyrics.
In a sense it’s a meat-and-potatoes rock album, but Barton knows how to pen a good song. The breakup ode “Wide Open Space” rides a dark, surf undertone and wonders, “Is it loneliness, status and the white picket fence that got us into this great big mess?” With its catchy reverb-laden hook and thumping backbeat, the 90-second country rave-up “Into View” sounds like a lost Long Ryders track (with a faint echo of the exultant chorus from Springsteen’s “Out In The Street”). The title track is a stalwart centerpiece as Barton delivers a churning rocker with a Johnny Cash air, opining, “Everyone’s a sinner just paying dues/Sometimes it’s all a man can do.”
Even the less sonically arresting tracks thrive on Barton’s strong writing, from “Wrecking Ball” which pleads, “Could someone crack my frown,” to cannily plainspoken “Hey Baby,” where he declares his befuddled insecurity: “One moment I feel all right, the next minute I don’t feel all right.” The only missteps are the forgettable “Shine” and “Let Me Know,” where Barton adopts an odd Neil Diamond vocal style.
This isn’t an album that will change your life, but for those who consume good rock music like burgers and fries, this will taste like Angus.