Danny Barnes is a true original. He sounds like he just crawled out from the swamp with his banjo, and his lyrics are not like anything that would come from country music from the Deep South. Even the title of his album, Pizza Box, doesn’t sound like any music that would be led by a banjo. But as the album opens with “Caveman,” where Barnes and his banjo state that “We got bills to pay/ We got shoes to shine/ It ain’t no different than in caveman times,” you begin to realize that this is not your ordinary singer/songwriter.
“Road” is as close as you’re going to get to hillbilly rock while still staying hillbilly. He laments that “she left me laying on the side of the road.” You would never hear this on rock or country radio, but it should be played on both.
Being on Dave Matthews’ ATO Records means that you have Mr. Matthews available to help out on your record. Not only that, but you have his entire family available, and Barnes uses that to his advantage as a chorus on the steady “Sleep.”
His crush on “Misty Swan” is revealed, and he also sings about her wardrobe: “Oh that Misty Swan/ She puts her high heels on/ She wears flannel pajamas/ She gotta keep that fanny warm.” Barnes follows this up with a song about where his girl works, “TSA.”
He does have a penchant for self-deprecation, especially on “Broken Clock,” where he tries to tell his love that “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.”
Barnes’ voice is instantly recognizable. Part country, part hillbilly, part yodeling, and part quirky, that is what makes his albums so good — that and his lyrics that fit the quirky part of his voice flawlessly. Pizza Box is another stellar album from one of the most underrated songwriters on the planet.
Danny Barnes: www.dannybarnes.com