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Barling — Barling With a “B”

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Whether it was cheap truck-stop cassette tapes of Freddy Fender or just turning up Ricky Skaggs’ “Honey Won’t You Open That Door” just a little bit louder, it was what I learned to dig, mostly because it was all I had and it was better than nothing.

That said, I used to think most new country music was terrible. And then Barling came into my life.

While they may be coasting on the current potato famine roots revival, this is pure classic country, and Barling With a “B” a classic country album.

The opener, “I’ll Teach Your Lover a Lesson,” is a gorgeously arranged duet between leads Nick Poss and Kelly Crawford that ranks right up there with the playful banter of Conway and Loretta. “Expected” is even better — a rockin’ and reelin’ number that might as well be a rootsy piss-take of Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right.” Slow jam “Old Framed Picture” is suitably heartbreaking.

But the closer, “River of Jordan,” ends the proceedings perfectly: with a semblance of hope. Not only in the love of the protagonist, but for the future of country music in general. —Louis Fowler

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