The Bad Livers co-founder Danny Barnes is at it again with Pizza Box, his latest release that soothes our longing for John Hartford-style humor mixed with soulful banjo pickin’ and a fresh injection of inspiration.
Each character Danny sings about, each situation and every feeling is multi-dimensional with personality and meaning. The songs are short stories with beginnings, middles and ends.
For instance, there’s Charlie, the “no good man,” who robs a liquor store, gets sent to jail and is planning his next repeat offense in the percussion-filled ballad named for him.
In “Broken Clock” the singer laments the troubles of being hard-working though not formally educated by relating to the broken clock that gets the time right twice a day.
“Overdue” sounds like a John Hiatt-love song of missed chances and opportunities lost but still with a hope for something better. It also features Dave Matthews, whom Danny met through Robert Earl Keen at a show in Houston. Dave also appears on “Caveman,” the record’s catchy, tongue-in-cheek, first single.
The whimsical lyrics in “Miss Misty Swan” seem straight out of the funky Bad Livers archive and some nontraditional instruments find their way into the record with some horns on “Bone” and “Sparta, TN” from Rashawn Ross (trumpet, horns, “Artillery”).
Also in the credits are Matt Chamberlain (drums, percussion, loops and “flight surgeon”), John Alagia (organ and “Wings and Prop”), Dave Matthews (backing vocals and “Field Commander”) and the Matthews Family Choir along with the reminder: “a. Hey, we’re all in this together. b. Music is good!” It certainly is.