There’s one glaring problem with Dave Barnes’ latest recording, Golden Days: the release date. For on Golden Days, Barnes has crafted a perfectly breezy, driving with the windows down and the radio cranked summer-styled pop record and chose to release it in the middle of a polar vortex in January. But aside from that problem, Barnes can rest easy with his latest work, assured that it’ll be part of the thawing out come spring and the fun and frivolity that’s bound to come with summer, landing his music right where it needs to be.
Golden Days follows hard on the heels of Barnes’ second Christmas offering, A December to Remember, and finds the artist doing what he knows best, crafting warmhearted and playful lyrics alongside upbeat and soulful acoustic-driven arrangements. It’s a template that’s been good to the artist and his blue-eyed soul and he uses it to its full potential here once again.
The album’s clear standout is “Good,” a track that recalls the simplicity and heart of the artist’s breakout hit, “God Gave Me You,” while powerfully capturing a heartbeat of thankfulness, counting his blessings in the world while resonant piano tones press the track forward. “By Two” is another great song, a jaunty acoustic love song that is saccharine sweet and bound to lead many a couple to a romantic moment or two.
Barnes’ taps into his inner funk on album opener, “Twenty Three,” singing a wistful tale of days gone by, accenting his smiling lyric with a chunky groove while “All She Wants Is You” leans on more familiar territory, rich guitar setting the stage for more lyrics of love. “Little Civil War” returns to some playful musicianship, as well as a feature spot for guest vocalist, Lucie Silvas, as does “Something More” which is infectiously upbeat, challenging even the most hardhearted to not crack a smile or tap a toe. And the smooth horn section and funky bass on “Heartbroken Down” just delivers the icing on the cake.
And through it all, Dave Barnes keeps on doing what he does best, being Dave Barnes. Providing great musicianship that never rests on its laurels yet not ever trying to press too far and layering it with honest, lived in lyrics that celebrate the beauty of the world, the artist continues to shine. And as the winter gives way to the thaw of spring and the album climbs the charts, as it’s bound to do, listeners can enjoy this great record, allowing the Golden Days shared by Dave Barnes to bring plenty of joy and warmth.