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JFH Music Review

Dave Barnes, 'Featherbrained Wealth Motel'

Dave Barnes
Featherbrained Wealth Motel

Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Pop
Album length: 10 tracks: 25 minutes, 30 seconds
Street Date: October 20, 2023


Dave Barnes is a six-layer dip of a man. (That's not an insult.) Meaning, like a certain green and reluctant hero, he has layers. Musician? Of course. Stand-up comedian? Let's just say he can't stand sitting down. Song crafter for a who's-who of Nashville artists? Yup. Podcaster? Check. Hand model? Well, let's not go too far. His newest album, the curiously titled Featherbrained Wealth Motel is the result of his fascinating experiment in stretching his established guy and guitar pop stylings. Realizing that his familiarity with the iconic Beatles catalog wasn't strong, Barnes dedicated an entire year to listening through their discography just to see how they would influence his music.

The result was these ten catchy pop songs said to have a direct one-to-one song influence. While Dave is coyly not saying which Beatles track inspired his compositions, if you're familiar enough with the Fab Four's tunes, you can assign a few possibilities. However, as a fan of both artists, I'm glad this wasn't a too-on-the-nose homage as much as it was Dave borrowing the bag of musical tricks that the lads utilized. We're talking things like a string swell here, an out-of-nowhere (in a good way) bridge there, key changes, tempo swings, harmonies, etc. Of course, all tunes are carried by the signature velvety golden tones of Barnes's voice. These songs fly by with a sugar rush swiftness, practically begging for you to listen to the album twice in a row, which I've done several times over.

"Remember When (You Wanted Everything You've Got Right Now)" kicks the album off with great energy, propelled forward by a crisp drum tone and guitar lead line a la "Glass Onion" style. Track two has perhaps the most obvious inspiration with its swooping and swelling string section taking the exclusive front-and-center of "Someday This Will All Make Sense." It's a big highlight of the album, both musically and album theme-wise. Next up is "Girl with the Weight of the World on Her Shoulders," which is my overall favorite track. The latter third of the song contains a surprising (in the best way possible) bridge that hits the spot in a joyously uplifting way.

Other highlights worthy of note are "Haley" and "Miss Deconstruction," which may give us our biggest clues to a central character of the record. Both are upbeat sunny tunes juxtaposed against a darker subject of heartbreak. Without digging too deeply or assigning meaning behind intent, the album title may be a nod to the encouragement to a friend of the transience of heartbreak. Much like the coming and going of a motel, though heartbreak can feel forever in the moment, it's ultimately a shorter stay than the sufferer would think. "Yearslong" is a sweet piano-based song of enduring love. Lastly of note are the one-two punch of closers "I Don't Like Sleeping Without You" and "Stars Over London Suite." Both are achingly tender, with the latter containing the gorgeous piano and string combo that is all too short, leaving me wishing for an additional five minutes of runtime.

Ultimately, the listen-to-the Beatles-for-a-year-experiment that is Featherbrained Wealth Motel is a resounding hit for this reviewer. While bearing some signatures of the iconic band, Barnes filters it through his singer-songwriter lens and produces a true delight of 2023 music releases. This is an absolute must for fans of Dave Barnes and/or The Beatles, if even just to try and match each song with its corresponding inspiration. Beyond that though, this is pure pop goodness: uplifting, and fun; certainly worth a listen. With a willingness to give it a shot, you may just find yourself returning to the quirky Featherbrained Wealth Motel again and again.

- Review date: 11/11/23, written by Josh Balogh of

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. Record Label: None
. Album length: 10 tracks: 25 minutes, 30 seconds
. Street Date: October 20, 2023
. Buy It: Apple Music
. Buy It: AmazonMP3

  1. Remember When (You Wanted Everything You've Got Right Now) (2:27)
  2. Someday This Will All Make Sense (2:41)
  3. The Girl with the Weight of the World on Her Shoulders (3:00)
  4. Hayley with a Heart (2:53)
  5. Miss Deconstruction (2:33)
  6. We Know the Way Back Home (2:15)
  7. Sunshine (2:36)
  8. Yearslong (3:23)
  9. I Don't Like Sleeping Without You (2:18)
  10. Stars over London Suite (1:20)



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