Jeff Rowe - Barstool Conversations (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Jeff Rowe

Barstool Conversations (2010)


Jeff Rowe seems to have come out of nowhere for me, but I'm sure glad he did. Rowe plays an unplugged, honest brand of normal-dude folk with a voice that isn't overtly Americana or whatever's cool or trendy at the moment; that kind of natural urgency and knack for simplicity will win you over without much gimmickry. His debut, Barstool Conversations, is an effortless and solid listen all the way through.

"Passenger" is a bit of a timid opener, with an easy yet satisfying vocal pattern. Cozy lines like, "suburban sprawl and marigold / condominiums and churches / you passed the signs that said you should be home now / you're a passenger along for the ride / I'm an author unable to write," prove Rowe to be a very descriptive and nostalgic lyricist. "Kate" and "Chasing Ghosts" follow suit with the slower moods, but it isn't until "An Island's Point of View" where things take a great leap forward. The register puts just the right amount of tension on his vocal cords. Some of the tracks are joined by sparse touches of harmonicas, drums and piano, but the songs all kind of have the same dynamic. A little change-up couldn't hurt here or there, even for folk-influenced music.

Granted, Rowe's slower tracks are from the heart, and I would never doubt that, but the album could use another energetic number or two to really balance it out. Otherwise, I'd say the potential is obviously there. Barstool Conversations is highly recommended for people who don't remember the night The Revival Tour came through your town. You know who you are.