Artist:  Dave Barnes

Title:  What We Want, What We Get

Label:  Razor & Tie

Favorite singer/songwriter's maturing college pop …

Having fraternized the college music circuit nearly ten years ago with his charming lyrical chops and memorable melodies, one of Nashville's favorite formerly independent singer/songwriters, Dave Barnes, is maturing into a full-fledged pop artist with his fourth full-length CD, What We Want, What We Get

Fusing radio-friendly flair and thoughtful word rhymes with production as sensitive to his early 30's peer group as his collegiate constituency, Barnes and longtime co-producer Ed Cash (Amy Grant, Bebo Norman) have created his most "easily digestible" record to date, so professes the performer in a recent press release. 

Track-listing a couple of commercial gems back-to-back, "God Gave Me You" pays tribute to the divine for granting grace through a lifelong companion ("For when I think I lost my way/God gave me you") while "What I Need," a stout collaboration with Jonny Lang, confesses reluctance to surrender to a trustworthy relationship (Why can't I see … Even on the brightest day/Even in a hurricane/You give me what I need")—though it's unclear whether the subject of Barnes' doubt is God or man.

"Chameleon" and "Someone's Somebody" cater to Barnes' retro-pop influences, laying down hook-laden grooves and tight horn hits to support his R&B-laced vocal tricks.  And though his singing flexibility is certainly an asset, "You Do the Same for Me" and closing cut, "Amen," enlist the rootsy vibe of a dobro and steel guitar to relax Barnes' larynx antics, revealing a voice that needs few devices to convince us of its sweetness.

And though his lighthearted take on love will always appeal to a younger demographic, on What We Want, What We Get, Barnes has morphed from a wordsmith wonderkid into a competent commercial artist with a veritable foothold in extended musical markets.

© 2010  All rights reserved.  Used with permission. 

**This review first published on June 17, 2010.