Dave Barrett has been a singer/songwriter in the Chicago area for the past twenty-five years. Back in 1995 he released Kittybone and in 2002 he released Fate and Stitches. Barrett recently released Stockton Ave. The album came about quite unexpectedly in 2020 and one thing led to another.
Stockton Ave is full of emotive, Americana-based songs. Barrett starts things off with “Dance With Me” which begins with an acoustic guitar pattern and vocals. I heard some similarities in his voice to Bruce Springsteen. It's a jovial song free of pretense and just feels like a good time. The melodies are fun and the spirit of the song is undeniable. Lyrically, the song captures that spirit when Stockton sings “Then the band began to play / Some disco crap from another day / But to him I didn’t care I slid up to you and gave my come to me stare.”
There are different flavors ahead. “Stockton Ave” is full of pure emotion and feels like perseverance manifested. The song contains some gorgeous keys, horns and much more. When Barrett sings “I’m moving on” you believe him.
Barrett becomes introspective and deep on thought on “In The House That Is Empty.” This is the type of song that might bring a tear to your eye. I thought the lyrics were exceptional and makes you feel like you are at the center of the story. Barrett sings “Remember when you found out all your heroes had lied / They told you love hurt less after it died / They didn’t understand that hearts easily break Especially yours, as if destined by fate.” “Turn Around” is a subtle and intimate song where there is some warm organ and piano that feels like a hug from an old friend. There’s a sincere honesty in his delivery that’s undeniable. Barrett goes into spoken word at points during the song and he has a voice that works for this. There are emotional ebbs and flows which make it a dynamic song.
I found “Touch and Go” to be one of the more uplifting songs on the album. It comes at you slowly with sweeping strings. The song is quite beautiful and another song that might make you shed a tear.
We got back to the bar with a lively crowd with “Dance On The Sidewalk.” I appreciated the happiness that comes from this track when you listen. It’s one of the songs I recommend turning up loud for maximum enjoyment. There’s a good chance it will lift you out of your chair and make you put on your dancing shoes. The party continues with “Simpleton Galore” which contains some mandolin.
Stockton is only about halfway through. There are a number of other standout songs. The mix of emotions made it feel like a complete album. “Come Around,”“Remedy” and “Heroes of Our Day” were standout performances.
After a long break Barrett returns with a fantastic album. I can’t say I was familiar with him prior to this release but I’m now a fan. Take a listen.