"I Know My Ocean" - the Traditionist
Guitar, bass, small drum kit, a harmonica flourish or two, an amiably insistent melody, a one-line chorus--turns out you don't need that much to make an effective and affecting song. Well, okay, there's also a banjo. Slide guitar too. And that droning sound beneath the mix pretty much the entire time. And those great lyrics, blending a stream-of-consciousness feeling with some startlingly focused observations.
What Joey Barro, in fact, has put together, hiding behind a name that looks like a word but isn't, is a deceptively complex song hiding out as an easy-going one. Building upon sonic territory pioneered of course by Bob Dylan (guitar, harmonica, wordy lyrics crammed into tight musical spaces) and more recently explored by fellow Southern Californian Peter Case (whom he resembles vocally, somewhat, in a good way), Barro, working with friend and producer Tim Bluhm, has constructed a wide-open delight of a song, all forward-moving flow and evocative texture--it's one of those songs that goes by in something of a blur, and yet every time your ear specifically tunes in, there's something interesting going on.
Barro is based in Huntington Beach, California, and is better known around those parts as front man for the band the Antiques. His new album actually started life as an Antiques CD, but became something different over the course of an extended recording schedule. Season to Season will be out on Better Looking Records in March; "I Know My Ocean" is the last track, and a really nice last track it is. MP3 via the Better Looking site.