It's always nice to see musicians from your hometown enjoying success in the mainstream market. Living in Knoxville, Tennessee, I've loved seeing the impact made by the hometown boys of hard rock act Disciple. Similarly, pop rock/R&B artist Dave Barnes, who graduated high school in Knoxville, is riding a wave of popular acclaim into his fourth full-length album, What We Want, What We Get. Barnes is certainly no stranger to the mainstream, having already received endorsements from such stars as John Mayer and Vince Gill, so it's certainly no surprise that What We Want... has turned out to be a solid collection of well-crafted, greatly enjoyable pop rock tracks.
In writing and performing the songs on What We Want..., Barnes has clearly pulled from several influences, and his integration of these varying sounds is nearly flawless. While the current single, "God Gave Me You," is solid modern pop rock, the peppy "Someone's Somebody" has an almost disco feel to its chorus. At the same time, the title track borrows heavily from R&B, occasionally meandering into the realm of guitar jazz, ala George Benson. "Chameleon" features a lively horn section and a tight gospel blues feel. Each different style is executed excellently. The production is also tight, as would be expected, but the album never seems insincere or manufactured. It would be hard to identify a single weak track on this album, as each one has its own appeal and the quality is consistently top shelf.
What We Want... also displays maturity in its lyrics. "God Gave Me You" is exactly what it sounds like, Barnes telling his wife that she is a gift from God in his life. On the flip-side, he struggles with conflict in his marriage on "My Love, My Enemy," saying, "It's hard to believe the one closest to me could feel so far away." In "What I Need," Barnes recognizes God's provision in his life, while the final track, "Amen" is a simple prayer addressing his future uncertainties. While the music is undeniably fun, the lyrics are thoughtful and relevant.
Ironically, with What We Want, What We Get, the listener gets exactly what he wants. This is an excellent album, one that will surely only further advance Dave Barnes into the mainstream. This is modern pop at its most genuine, original, and masterfully executed.- Review date: 4/4/10, written by Timothy Estabrooks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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