Dave Barnes

Golden Days

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Unlike any of his peers in Christian pop or the adult contemporary realm, Dave Barnes is the kind of troubadour who should never have found favor with either: he is way too soulful and unconcerned with religious pandering for one group, and too much like the heartthrobs-with-guitars crowding the other. Still, Barnes soldiers on -- more prolific than most on either side of the equation -- and is bound to continue to find an audience with Golden Days, his seventh studio album. Barnes seems to know what tickles his listeners, most of whom have grown older with him, and he won’t let up. He once again offers a likable batch of story songs, love numbers, and prayer-like ballads about his world and the world around him, all couched in his characteristic mix of soulful pop, coffeehouse folk, and Top 40 country, polished to perfection by longtime collaborator Ed Cash. This is nothing unheard of if you’re at all familiar with Josh Kelley, Ari Hest, and Matt Nathanson, but what sets Barnes apart is a lighthearted, almost self-effacing quality that belies the works of more serious guitar wielders, tempered with the singer's growing sense of what it means to be a grown-up. Of these reflections, the centerpiece is "Good," a pop ballad about the blessedness of marriage -- warts and all -- that, if not a hit for Barnes, is bound to go to the highest country music bidder. Such is the cross appeal of Golden Days, an extraordinarily ordinary effort by a songster who has learned that life's little things need not be separated into the sacred or the mundane to speak to the whole of man.

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