Back in June, we reported to you about the Barefoot Movement, a young folk group with roots in the ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program. The band has recently released its second album, Figures of the Year, a sixteen-track collection that varies between folk-pop and authentic-sounding old-time.
The majority of the tracks are band originals, or the group’s own arrangements of traditional tunes. Fiddle player Noah Wall carries most of the lead vocals and over half the songwriting credits, filling the album with melodic numbers that contemplate the emotions and experiences of growing older. Wall’s vocals are delicate and powerful at the same time, especially on songs like Chasing Shadows, an original composition which has hints of the Dixie Chicks’ grassier efforts.
Also enjoyable are the acoustic pop-flavored Should Have Known, which deals with coming to terms with a loss of trust, and Second Time Around, which has a nice country-tinged fiddle accompanying its tale of giving love a second try even if you have a few doubts. Do What You Please, co-written by Wall and mandolin player Tommy Norris, has a jazzy, swingy feel and finds the singer being extremely honest with a lover: “If you can choose to stay, you can choose to leave, and I wish for once that you’d choose me. I know by now, you’ll do just what you please.” The instrumental 28th of January, which leads into this track, has a bit of the same sound, with a gypsy vibe added in.
The more old-time leaning songs on the album are also well-done, though they don’t quite mesh with the radio-friendly, folk-pop tunes. Guitarist Quentin Acres (who has since left the band) takes the lead on his arrangement of the traditional Going Across the Sea, an upbeat love song with nice clawhammer banjo from guest Roy Andrade. Acres also contributes the original Restless Heart, a modern take on the old-time style with mournful vocals that are matched well to the instrumentation. The band shows off their old-time instrumental skills on Shuckin’ the Brush, a toe-tapping fiddle tune.
With Figures of the Year, the Barefoot Movement provides listeners with an enjoyable taste of modern folk and old-time music. Lyrics are thoughtful, harmonies are generally tight, and instrumentation is well-done all around from Wall (fiddle and vocals), Acres (guitar and vocals), Norris (mandolin and vocals) and the band’s newest member, Hasee Ciaccio, whose upright bass provides a solid rhythm section throughout the project (Ciaccio also contributes banjo ukulele and vocals).
For more information on the Barefoot Movement, visit their website at www.barefoot-movement.com. Their new album can be purchased from their website, as well as several online music retailers.