Local Music Reviews
Michael Barrow & the Tourists
Michael Barrow & the Tourists = Rufus Wainwright + John Mayer
Provo-grown indie folk rock band Michael Barrow & the Tourists are a five-man melodic group meandering into nature and humanity. Reminiscent of weary road trips strapped with heaving luggage, Juneau is a lovely set of soulful stories. Lyrical richness, evoking melancholic freedom and bold exploration, slow burns its way through every song.
Juneau is beautifully produced, with clean simplicity and sonic richness, a testament to the band’s methodical approach. Opening track “Sing Me Something New” starts soft and folksy and then suddenly picks up tempo and floods the listener with upbeat blues and soaring vocals. A contemporary Celtic feel imbues “The Mountain & The Sea” with images of a gaggle of idealistic youths swinging and swilling steins of Guinness while singing triumphantly in a crowded pub.
It’s wrapped with a pleasing harmonica bridge. A contemplated counterpoint, “The List” is a mournful admission of masculine shame and fragility via strikingly vulnerable statements, such as “I ask myself if I’m good enough for love.” I find myself affectionately attached to this track and its open honesty, inclusive of its slightly syrupy pop romanticism. “Hey Hey Hey” winds around a lovely melody reminiscent of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.
This particular track stands out in its beauty, a curious juxtaposition to its spartan and somewhat misleading title. The listener is not lead astray with the track “Sad Song,” a tale of the emotional violence of unkind relationships and their inevitable heartbreaks. The sentiment of “shallow waters still can make you drown” flows freely through this bluesy, brooding track.
With melodic beauty and narrative complexity, Juneau feels like a perfect crisp autumn canyon drive, reflecting on the beauty of change and the disappointment at the end of something mercurial yet weighty. –Paige Zuckerman