David Barbe - 10th of Seas - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

David Barbe - 10th of Seas

by D R Pautsch Rating:5 Release Date:2017-08-18

David Barbe is known for his other work rather than his solo stuff.  As the ong-time producer of Drive By Truckers (amongst others) and bassist in legendary Bob Mould rebound group of the 90’s Sugar, he has worked hard at his music without getting any recognition for himself.  Indeed Sugar largely ceased to be, as he wanted to tour less and be closer to his young family at the time.  He has entered academia, produced records and recorded his own, but not really rippled the pond with any of these stones.  This latest solo album is truly a one man piece of work with him abandoning other musicians to record everything himself.  On Sugar’s swan-song, File Under Easy Listening, Barbe contributed his only song to proceedings (excepting the live standard Where Diamonds Are Halo’s), the plodding but pulverising Company Book.  Throughout proceedings on 10th of Seas you are reminded of that song, as most of the songs here plod along at a similar pace, without the noise that made that song so memorable.  Indeed this is much closer in style to some of the moments on Bob Mould’s solo work that followed his Sugar years than anything else.

The vocals veer between the obvious to the obtuse, where in "My Last Game" they are drowned out by the bass almost entirely.  "It’s Gonna Land" is an almost Harrison version Beatles-meets-grunge number that stumbles through its proceedings with its chiming guitar and slow but steady rhythm section.  It’s that throwback to invasion band sounds that is the most endearing thing about 10th of Seas.  It could have largely been recorded in the mid-sixties and fitted into those bands' canons without even batting an eyelid or blushing too brightly.  The often treated and thus undecipherable vocals do not help matters, though.  It’s difficult on many songs to get close enough to get any love going.  This leaves an almost perceptible hole in the middle of the heart of the album that’s difficult to ignore.  It feels at times that Barbe is dragging his instrument kicking and screaming through the whole experience.  It’s just too workmanlike and bereft of flair and originality to make it stand out.

Barbe is certainly better than this and it’s painful to write such of an obvious talent.  However, there is a lack or spark and inspiration throughout which leaves 10th of Seas as far from being a bad record, just not a very good one. Rather like the first song on this album this is not a collection of shining stars but rather a bunch of "Dim Bulbs."



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