Century Of The Self marks the debut album release from contemporary folk songwriter Brian Barron.The album was recorded in the prestigious Hellfire Studios, mixed and mastered by engineer Ivan Jackman. The tracks were largely cut live on the floor with just minimal overdubs. Joining Barron were Daniel Fitzpatrick (guitar,piano,bass, pump organ) and Aoife Ruth (backing vocals, piano, violin, viola, organ, mallets) of Badhands and violinist Jayne Eleanor. Century Of The Self was cut over just four days in 2019. Several songs were recorded per session with the four musicians' core performances forming the focal point of each song. The ten songs, though steeped in traditional structures are born of a keen awareness of the full scope of the modern world. Outwardly looking rather than introspective and self serving.
A songwriter should never forget where he comes from. Woodie Guthrie himself once said "it's a folk artist's job to comfort disturbed people and to distrub comfortable people" and when we listen to Brian Barron's work, this is very much in evidence througout. There are dark themes and also the lighter ones and the balance is just right.. His storytelling reminds us of some of the bards through the history, some of the songs also have a slight political tone, others talk about serious issues which are deeply steeped in the history of Ireland (Tuam Baby Massacre). The sinister tale of Tuam babies will send chill down your spine even more when you realize this is a reality and still a sensitive topic after all those years.
Ode to Terence Wheelhouse is another of the collection of powerful songs that won't let you pass it by without an impact. Barron's vocal shows slight anger which is truly appropriate if you pay attention to the lyrics. These songs need to be delivered properly and Brian Barron is well aware of that. This is another example of a song that will stay with you long after the album ends.
Blind is another dark track mentioning how easily can the society be manipulated by the media, by politicians, by money, by lust. It also shows the power of spoken word. It leaves a strong mark on the listener, feeling of uneasiness too but that goes back to Woodie Guthrie quote we mentioned earlier on.
To be Free could well be an anthem for the current situation not only in Dublin but Ireland overall. It talks about the loneliness and fears of eviction and homelessness. " I am just the same as my fellow men, not that different to you." Poignant lyrics where you realize it can happen to anyone. And it doesn't have to be your fault directly.
We need these brave artists in every generation to wake us up from our comfortable lives and to make us realize there are still rotten pieces remaining and something needs to be done. Century Of The Self could serve as a perfect example for aspiring songwriters that you don't have to focus on feelings and the inside exclusively but looking around is equally important. Brian Barron is proving yet again that music is a powerful tool if you know how to use it. And he surely does.