Tim Barry - Rivanna Junction (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Tim Barry

Rivanna Junction (2006)

Suburban Home

Let's clear the air right now. Tim Barry is widely recognizable for fronting the south's mightiest hardcore band, Avail. However, other than the distinctive vocals, you won't find much comparison to Tim's main gig within his solo debut full-length, Rivanna Junction.

The album kicks off with "Trash Inspirations," one of the more upbeat tracks that immediately establishes the overall country/bluegrass tone of the album. The twang from Josh Small on the resonator guitar provides the extra bluegrass appeal to this song, and Tim's vocal range goes from gruff to harmonic melody and back several times. Following is the slower and more personally reflective "Avoiding Catonic Surrender." Lyrically, a vibe similar to Tim's Avail songs is noticeable, however, the apathetic undertone and straightforward abrasiveness is dramatically mellowed by the soothing violin of Tim's younger sister, Caitlin, who is also the subject of the fictatious story in the next song, "Dog Bumped," which could be the best track on the album. Tim sings of being locked away for the death of his sister's abusive ex-husband in a manner very similar to the late, great Johnny Cash. I won't give away the ending, but here's a couplet pair that just stuck out to me:

Well, I took my last breath of fresh free air,
found that piece of shit asleep in his relaxin' chair,
I hit him good, a solid right, a solid left,
And forced him to his feet for his last breath
What really sets this album apart is the eclectic variety in the songs, tempos and subject matter. As previously mentioned, Josh Small frequently contributes on the dobro, and the family spirit is kept in tact with his sister Caitlin on violin, and brother James on piano. Tim also joins with instrumentation to accompany his vocal duties, handling duties on the acoustic guitar. On "C'mon Quinn," he is once again joined by sister Caitlin for a love song reaching into the depths of care-free love; tales of train-hopping and carrying beers in a bag while riding a bike paint quite the vivid picture.

Tim Barry seems to have taken a very relaxed approach in this effort. None of the songs seem forced, conceited or half-assed -- symptoms that seem to plague many frontmen opting to take the solo road. Instead, Rivanna Junction is a humble offering of life, love, and a few good stories to entertain. The influence of country, bluegrass and folk are all present and blended in a manner that just hums of the obvious southern influence. For those unaware, the south has more to offer than racism, bible-thumping and backwoods/toothless/both rednecks. Lost in the midst of these stereotypes are the amazing qualities southern life has to offer: genuine hospitality, amazing food, beautiful landscapes and a much slower and relaxed way of living. But the summer humidity is horrific...

Stream Rivanna Junction at Tim Barry's Punknews.org profile page