All I Have Is Here
Midlands based two piece, Jonathan Coates and Michael McEntee, better known as Barricades Rise have recently released their second full length album ‘All I Have Is Here’. Their mix of acoustic, folk and rock has not only seen them gain fans but also comparisons to acts such as Mumford and Sons and Elvis Costello.
For me, the Costello references stand but the Mumford references are a load of old tosh. As a serial Mumford despiser I can tell you that though there may be some underlying comparisons – folk influences, use of the banjo and sing a long tracks – these guys have something the others don’t – brilliant musicality, an infectious sound and a clear passion running throughout every single track.
Proceedings open with vocals harmonies and Latin tinged guitar found on ‘Animals’. Fast paced drums create a constant beat and the main vocal has a gritty edge adding a rock twang to the song that juxtaposes itself perfectly with the screeched vocal ‘ah’s’ and Spanish feel and swaying rhythm.
A lot of these songs only comprise of guitar, drums and vocals but the pair always manage to create a huge sound that at first listen you would think belonged to a big band not an indie folk duo.
With the foundations for the pair’s sound clearly laid out they then add new influences and experiment. A folk band’s best friend, the banjo, is one of those instruments introduced to some songs on the album such as ‘Always Yours’. It’s a short, under 2 minute track with harmonious vocals that still retain that rock edge backed up by intricate guitar and quick drums making up this fast paced song.
Then there’s ‘Nod & Smile’ with gentle guitar and plucked banjo strings backing up the verses whose vocals are so strong they could be left completely on their own and still create a full sounding song. They are always backed up by minimal instruments that are played to perfection though such as the elaborate riffs, hard hit drums that sound like someone stamping their feet and cymbals that crash in lingering sonically long after they have gone.
While ‘If You Were Here’ features strummed acoustic and vocals that linger on the last notes until the next line starts while banjo arrives in the second verse adding a happier tone to the emotion found in the lyrical content. This one is a love song in the true folk based version of one with tender vocals singing beautiful words such as “if we have more time I wouldn’t waste any more with tears, and I would take away every one of your darkest fears, and if I could I’ll make this all disappear”. This one is a really stunning moment and one of my favourite tracks.
The quiet and flowing ‘Great White North’ is a lovely moment of calm after so many chaotic songs. The dulcet vocals suit this acoustic indie ballad to their home with lyrics such as ‘where my heart lies is the great white north’. Next track ‘Folk Songs & Jazz Bands’ comprises of a good rhythm, plenty of melody and jazz accents while ‘Roundabouts’ opens softly before the battering of the percussion and that Latin/Spanish feel is back for the opening chorus and continues throughout.
Album closer ‘Just For Tonight’ sees muted guitar sitting under the vocals. This one is another love song and the quieter start sits well with the lyrical content. Ending the album on a slightly subdued note is a nice way to play out after all the frantic sounds and big moments.
On the whole, a lot of the album is very upbeat, happy and jolly sounding. It’s folk music that will put a smile on your face and a spring in your step. For a two piece to make this huge sound is no mean feat but the lyrical content is not lacking either with stories creating an album that flows so well. This second chapter in the duo’s career is a positive step, a really great album and bound to propel them even further.
Check out their song ‘Folk Songs & Jazz Bands’ below: