Angels and One Armed Jugglers
If you don’t recognize the name, Chris Barron, I guarantee you’ll recognize the voice. Barron came of age as part of the New York jam band scene that grew up around the legendary club, the Wetlands. Barron fronted the Spin Doctors who scored hits with “Two Princes”, “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues”. If you don’t recognize the names, I’m sure you know the tunes as they still turn up all over the place.
Angels and One Armed Jugglers finds Barron exploring a sound more similar to the Band than what he did with the Spin Doctors. Barron uses muted sonic colors to bring these stories to life. “Till the Cows Come Home” sounds like it’s being performed by a weary hotel jazz band at 3am. “The World According to Garp” revisits John Irving’s eccentric world while evoking a bit of Leon Redbone’s riverboat troubadour. The title track reminds me of the HBO show Carnivale. Chris introduces a ragged group of performers, reminiscing about better times while on the way to the next one night stand. The tune sets up the overarching theme of the album. Barron sketches lyrical images of people who know things are fucked up, but they still have to get up in the morning and make the best of what’s left. He sings about this being a beautiful world while conceding that it was destroyed a long time ago. He sings about needing a punch in the face when he gets out of line.
Angels and One Armed Jugglers jaded optimism is clearly informed by the strange times we’re living through and also personal struggles. While this project was gestating, Chris lost his voice to a paralyzed vocal chord. Chris is one of the one armed jugglers making his way the best he can in a cruel and fascinating world.