20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Lou Barlow’s Goodnight Unknown by gjfitton
Goodnight Unknown

Goodnight Unknown

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Lou Barlow’s “The Right” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

Lou Barlow‘s new album, Goodnight Unknown, serves as an alternative-folk fusion record with an intriguing and mellow sound. With a calming, yet captivating voice similar to that of Trent Reznor, Barlow lays the groundwork for a creative and varied album with a handful of different style tracks. His first album in four years, and second for Merge Records, it appears that he’s learned a bit in the time off between releases.

Sonically, this album varies greatly, and is very well produced and mixed. “Faith in Your Heartbeat” is a somber track that provides a steady guitar progression, accompanied by Barlow’s solemn vocals.

“The Right” displays a radio-friendly pop-rock sound, while “Praise” gives us a chant with choppy guitar chords and eye-opening lyrics. On “Take Advantage” he makes an attempt at a love song, but the lyrics can be interpreted as somewhat uncanny. “Modesty” comes off as a tad boring, and “Gravitate” seems to follow a beat building formula. The album’s closer, “One Note Tone” is a very inspirational song that is accompanied by a powerful acoustic guitar.

Goodnight Unknown shows a much more mature sound than Barlow possessed earlier in his career. A full nineteen years removed from his debut, and now over forty years old, his new sonic approach seems appropriate for the aging artist.

The artistic creativity is definitely there, and the somewhat quiet and tranquil vocals somewhat hide the actual depth of the lyrics, but the music itself evokes a mellow feeling, which seems to be Barlow’s intention. The album is not for everyone: it might inspire some, while putting others to sleep. But for its purpose, which is directed at a target audience and sound, Goodnight Unknown is a solid folk album.

— Gregory Fitton

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