Charlie Barnes – Last Night’s Glitter : Album Review

“This album is me, at home,” says Charlie Barnes of Last Night’s Glitter. An expression that sums up this subtle and refined little collection rather well.

Release Date: 3rd July 2020

Label: InsideOut Music

Formats: DL / CD / vinyl

A change is as good as a rest. So for a change, try this. Just listen to the first few seconds of every track on the album and then go in deeper. Testing out the ‘opening seconds’ theory on Last Night’s Glitter gives a pretty good impression of what you’re going to experience when you sit down for a deep dive.

It’s also great to see what happens when you’re not playing the part of touring multi-instrumentalist for the mighty popular Bastille. Charlie Barnes enters a channel born from the need to strip things back and head in a more acoustic direction. The acquisition of his first decent acoustic guitar and the joy of fingerpicking seem to have been the final catalyst.

Some distance from the multi-layered approach of much of his previous work, much may lie within a shift in the instrumentation; lap steel, woodwind and a light touch of strings add to the gossamer touch of guitar to provide a pastoral experience. The feeling is of music for languid Summers in quaint English villages. In particular, the soft sweep of chamber strings that strike on Sing To God intro acts as a prelude to the acoustic framework that’s to feature so strongly.

The course sees Barnes re-imagining some songs from his catalogue into 2020 versions. They’re weighted towards Oceanography from 2018 with a handful from 2015’s More Stately Mansions. It prompts the obvious step to re-listen to those albums where any boldness and brashness has been converted to a charming melancholy.

Two pieces from More Stately Mansions offer low key moments. MacbethMacbethMacbeth floats like the proverbial lonely cloud while Dresden evolves into darker operatic territory. Not quite lush but definitely relaxing and revealing. and not quite Clapton but it’s not always about what they charmingly call ‘guitar wankery’ but about mood and feel.

There might be the reference to last night’s glitter, but don’t be put off by thoughts of faded remnants and the aftermath of a celebration. There’s no way that these songs have lost any of their despite losing their layers. Quite the opposite. Deeper listens also reveal a romantic flavour, the lap steel and brass adding the occasional mournful quality.

Closure comes with the freshly penned title track showcases the confidence of the new Barnes – “I used to see defeat in growing up to be less than more than a man” – offers a personal collection of moments. The icing on the cake? Maudlin and Gallic and a rare glimpse of intensity towards the close.

Enjoy listening for the birds in the garden, the rain on the studio skylight roof and the dog shifting in her bed. It’s that sort of record. A perfect example of how to rein things in. Last Night’s Glitter is a delicate and intimate reawakening

Listen to the title track here:

You can read Charlie’s brilliant Why I Love feature on Oceansize on our site here

Charlie Barnes online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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