Scranton’s native son James Barrett dropped the first singles from his upcoming debut album The Price of Comfort. James has been making music out of the Electric City for a few years now, releasing a series of EPs while building a local following. This upcoming album is serving both as his proper debut and as a soft reboot for the “James Barrett” project. He wanted to go for a full band sound and recruited some friends to help build it out, including his brother Tyler who is now playing drums and Doug Griffiths who used to play guitar with local legends Those Clever Foxes.
In an interview with Highway 81 Revisited James said he didn’t know what kind of sound he was going for and felt like the album swings from alternative rock into something heavier. The first single My Anxious Soul is definitely from the ‘something heavier’ end of the album. It was written in the midst of a day where James’ significant other and him split shortly before he found out a close friend had passed, leaving him isolated and stuck dealing with the deluge of emotion on his own. The song feels like something that would have fit along perfectly with the incredible new Oso Oso album. James sings about how his world is collapsing around him and how he feels powerless to change things on his own. He begs for someone (likely his lost lover) to come fix him, and wonders if their earth will stop spinning when his heart stops beating. The “something heavier” James was talking about was definitely emo, as this is about as emo a track as you can get. That being said it’s not a despondent song by any means. James starts slow and quiet drawing you in, picking up the pace in the middle. He closes the track with a strong guitar riff before finally dropping you off the edge of the cliff the song started on.
The second song in this singles pack, album opener The First Days of July, confirmed my suspicion that this might be an emo record. This tune is incredibly well produced and reminds me of something from a later day Tigers Jaw album. The lyrics here are a touch more optimistic, as the chorus’ repeated “and I will not be defined by everything that’s absent from my life” shows he’s at least trying to get to a positive outlook on life through the melancholy. At first he whispers that refrain before screaming it twice, as if he is trying to convince himself that he actually believes it. It is a powerful performance that will serve as a great tone setter for what will undoubtedly be a heavy project. With these two tracks as an appetizer we here at GSC cannot wait to hear the full album.
These songs will appear on James’ debut album The Price of Comfort which comes out on Honest Face Records October 18th and is now available for pre-order. You can check those tracks out on BandCamp, Spotify, Apple Music. Thank you to Dylan Eddinger for the photo at the top of the piece.