You can feel a tangible sense of release listening to Johnny Barlow’s debut album. The last words on the record, from the gorgeous In Easy, state “I’m finally here.” It’s been some journey for the Ellesmere Port singer/songwriter too.
You’ll recognise him as the lead guitarist from Amsterdam – but this is no side project. Barlow has spent the last year recording the songs that he has gathered and crafted over the last ten years with Amsterdam.
Fans of that band have heard glimpses of his melancholic melodies over the years, most notably in Feels Like Growin’ Up and Rosie, released on the last two Amsterdam albums. But Barlow has taken centre-stage now.
It’s a brave move.
Not one for belting out his message, Johnny Barlow opts instead to let his songs creep up on you, with stacked harmonies (thanks to violinist Anna Jenkins), lilting instrumental passages and solid arrangements. Amsterdam fans will revel in the poppier moments, like title track The Fosse Way and the catchy-as-hell Ame For Me. But it’s the more reflective tunes, like A Blue Moment and Tear Up Your Own, which hit the hardest on this record.
And that’s the revealer. By looking back over the years, Johnny Barlow has created a wide open future for himself. The Fosse Way is out now on Johnny’s website, and the album’s launched with a gig at The Zanzibar, Seel Street, on September 11.
Photo by Dave Evans