Song: "Wait At Milano"
Album: Rivanna Junction
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While there have been many, perhaps the most interesting style to emerge over the past decade has been that of the "folk-punk" performer. Taking the attitude of punk rock and the stripped down, softer sounds of folk, a number of punk frontmen have used this style as a release for some of their more introspective songs. Though these genres may seem quite distant, it is the honest, soul-bearing sentiment that can be found in both that serves as a bridge between the two. Though many singers have taken this solo approach, few have done so with as much sonic beauty and heavy emotion as one finds in the work of Avail frontman, Tim Barry. While one can easily make the case that Avail was a punk band that concentrated on melody far more than a majority of their peers, the true abilities of Barry were not seen until the early 2000's when his first solo album his shelves. After a few attempts, Barry achieved what is without question his finest musical moment in the form of 2006's Rivanna Junction. Touching all sides of his talents, the album offers a song for every music fan, yet when taken as a single work, it is without question one of the most moving and beautiful records of the entire decade. Each track offers an amazing lyrical journey, as Barry proves to be one of the finest writers of his generation, and the varied musical approach keeps the album fresh. Though every song on Rivanna Junction is worth hearing, few carry the emotion and impact as one finds in Tim Barry's 2006 track, "Wait At Milano."
As soon as it begins, the mood of "Wait At Milano" is immediately clear, as there is a somber, almost lonely tone to the music. The soft, dejected sound of the music is a stark contrast to the borderline-hardcore sound that Barry played with Avail, and yet it works brilliantly, as there is a deep sense of honestly that comes out in the music. The song itself is able to appear as completely stripped down when in fact there is a great deal happening in terms of the musical arrangement. As one would expect, the most prominent instrument is Barry's guitar, and yet the way it is played alongside what sounds like a Dobro from Josh Small is nothing short of musical perfection. There is no distortion whatsoever to be heard, and this reinforces the raw and unguarded mood that runs throughout every aspect of "Wait At Milano." Adding to the heavy emotion is the light piano work of Daniel Clark, and the combined sonic presentation almost sounds as if this was an "accidental" musical creation as opposed to a fully planned song. The fact that this mood is achieved serves as a testament to the pure and raw emotions that are conveyed through the music, and few songs in history have been able to present a similar sound. The manner with which the music seems to envelop the listener is an effect that must be experienced firsthand, and it is what sets "Wait At Milano" apart from the rest of the songs found on Rivanna Junction.
Presenting a perfect combination to the musical arrangement, Tim Barry's vocals stand as some of the most moving and sincere ever recorded. Showing that there was a great deal more to his vocal range and abilities than were shown through his work with Avail, Barry clearly has a solid understanding of where and when to push his singing to what is almost a scream, and it creates one of the most heartbreaking, yet mesmerizing vocal performances ever recorded. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Tim Barry has a rather simple, yet unique voice, and his voice is the sort to which nearly anyone can easily sing along. Regardless of "why" his voice is so intriguing, on "Wait At Milano," Barry unleashes what may very well be his most poignant, yet universal lyric of his entire career. Set in what is a loose blues progression, Barry holds nothing back, and one can easily hear the pain in his voice as he delivers these completely candid, yet somehow ingenious words. Touching deep on the overall idea of loneliness, Barry is able to phrase the feelings in a way far beyond that of anyone else who has ever approached the subject, and it is due to how perfectly he captures these feelings that one understands how often he himself must have dealt with that pain. Yet there is a uniquely deep genius on his words, and few writers have ever penned lines as brilliant as when Barry sings, "...and if what you seek ain’t free then steal it, if it ain’t necessity you don’t need it, just leave what’s left for who comes next..." Though these are perhaps the brightest words of the song, there is not a moment anywhere on "Wait At Milano" that is anything short of true musical beauty.
Proving that there is far more in common than one might assume, it is artists like Tim Barry that have been able to find success within the relatively new musical approach of "folk-punk." Largely due to the fact that most styles are based in honest and simple musical arrangements, whether the music is being played loud or soft, the two genres are able to combine with one another in a number of fantastic ways. In many ways, Tim Barry was a perfect candidate for this new musical approach, as his work with Avail was far more musically complete than a majority of their peers, and his ability to write superior lyrics was evident from his first recordings. However, regardless of his previous work, there is simply nothing that could have shown the exceptional musical talent that one finds on his 2006 release, Rivanna Junction. Perfectly capturing the spirit of folk music, yet giving it a more modern sound and just enough attitude, the album stands as one of the most unique and overlooked musical achievements of the entire decade. Throughout the record, Barry holds nothing back, and it is largely due to this unguarded sense of emotion that the songs are so moving and enjoyable. In an era when musical integrity in every sense of the word has become a rare occurrence, it is music like that found on Rivanna Junction that keeps hope alive that there are still performers making impassioned, honest music. While the entire album is well worth hearing, everything that makes Rivanna Junction such a superior musical achievement can be found in Tim Barry's 2006 song, "Wait At Milano."