If you’ve ever wondered what country music is all about, you could have tuned into the 50th anniversary of the Country Music Awards last week and you would have figured it out pretty quickly. Alternatively, you could listen to Barrett Baber’s album “A Room Full of Fighters” and you’d get the same impression. The country genre is about storytelling. It’s about a palpable love of the art form. And it’s about the kind of authenticity that strikes to the heart. And Baber, just by staying true to himself, delivers on all those fronts with his new album.
Arkansas native Barrett Baber placed third during the 9th season of NBC’s hit show The Voice after competing on fellow country artist Blake Shelton’s team. Baber, as one of the older members of the show’s cast that year, brought the kind of maturity and experience that helped him carve out a clear image of who he was as an artist. Fans of the singer had a good idea, by the time the finale rolled around, of what Baber was capable of. Baber tackled everything from country classics like Tanya Tucker’s “Delta Dawn” to modern hits like Thomas Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man” and even stretched himself outside of the genre with his take on Ella Henderson’s “Ghost.”
But the singer had more surprises up his sleeve with his first album after the show, recruiting talented industry heavy weights like Kenny Lamb and Sean McConnell, among others, as well as fellow Voice contestant Dustin Christiansen to help out with the album. Baber also flexed his own writing muscles on six of the albums thirteen song to craft an album that would display his own authenticity, heart and storytelling ability.
And the album does just that. The heart is there from the opening track (“What the Hell”) which is evidently an ode to Baber’s wife, but is easy to relate to as one of those love songs that reflects on the improbability of how things play out in love and in life. Baber also brings the fun of country music on “Train Tracks,” a catchy tune with its share of youthful nostalgia, and “Local Honey,” a song that taps into Baber’s southern rock roots and sense of humor.
Baber also knows how to create an atmosphere of his own with songs like “Never Just a Call,” an angsty track that paints a picture of a relationship that’s strictly physical and wouldn’t be out-of-place on a Lady Antebellum album. It is also arguably my favorite track on the album, though it’s a tough call with so many standouts. There’s also “Still Stands” which has its own ominous aura about it that would fit comfortably in a Clint Eastwood movie or on an episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead.
The album also has it’s share of songs with single potential. Aside from “Kiss Me Hello,” which was the first single from the album that had its share of plays on country radio, “Reckless Love” also has the potential to shake up the charts with its message of uncompromising devotion, as does “Lived In,” a song about car that’s see it’s share of adventures.
What is great about the album, and perhaps what makes country music so timeless, is that the stories and the messages never get old. Baber has layered the album with so much meaning and unique vocal choices that his fans get to peel back every time they pick it up. We often forget that music is, in a way, a product to be consumed but in Baber’s hands, it feels like so much more. The album feels like memories to be cherished and remembered anytime, not put on a shelf and forgotten. There are songs that improve with time and reward the listener for searching for the finer details. It’s an album that, I believe, will not only help give Baber the boost he needs to break out of The Voice‘s atmosphere and into the vast frontier of the country music industry, but also the staying power to hopefully make a name for himself down the road.
Check out Barrett Baber’s new album “A Room Full of Fighters” on iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon Music or you can order a physical copy from his official website. You can also find Barrett on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.