Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

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Album Review: Barna Howard – Quite A Feelin’

2 min read

As its apostrophe droppin’ title might imply, Barna Howard’s Quite A Feelin’ is steeped in the language of country music from a bygone era. Although at times it does fall ever so slightly flat – now and then it feels as though Howard is more interested in genre than theme or tone – it’s a largely successful release, one that comes to feel more like a loving tribute rather than po-faced imitation.

Barna Howard - Quite A FeelinHoward’s voice is impressive, and although his vocal range does more than occasionally call to mind the legendary Townes Van Zandt, he drily sings lines like ‘I admit I’m havin’ fun/being on the run’ on title track Quite A Feelin’ with an understated power that feels genuinely unique. That song in particular is an example of how impressive Howard can be when on form: with little more than a guitar, his voice, and a bellyful of longing, the young singer/songwriter genuinely moves.

Hands Like Gloves is another understated pleasure. Although it doesn’t pack the lyrical punch it should, given its subject matter, it does aim very high, and the simple instrumentation is gripping rather than boring or reductive, as it so easily could have been in the hands of a less talented musician.

That said, songs like Notches on A Frame and Indiana Rose feel oddly toothless. They owe too big a debt to too great a musical legacy, and Howard delivers clichéd lyrics like ‘lovin’ you was hard’ and ‘one more for the road’ with an earnestness that seems out of place. Although his sincerity is admirable, hearing a singer mutter lines that have been sung so many times before that they’ve become part of the wallpaper is a little disconcerting, and ultimately alienates one from the record just a touch.

Nonetheless, when Howard manages to shake off his genre obligations, he can do some fine, fine things: Rooster Still Crows, Then and There, and album closer Lend Me A Moment all impress, and although they may be different tonally and thematically, all three are united by Howard’s clear eye, level head and quick, string plucking fingers.

It’s worth noting Howard’s bravery, too. By sneaking in rather than blowing the door off its hinges, Howard has found his own unique version of defiance; Quite A Feelin’ bursts with a powerful resistance, and a dogged determination to do things differently. Although the record might not be a complete success, it’s an atypical delight that brushes more than occasionally against greatness.