The first studio album by Illinois Americana trio Backyard Tire Fire (following 2003's Live at the Georgia Theatre), Bar Room Semantics is a perfectly titled album of vignettes about folks whose lives revolve around the neighborhood watering hole. Singer/songwriter Ed Anderson doesn't over-sentimentalize his subjects in songs like "The Daze," a catchy jangle rocker that coolly documents the rise and fall of a young rock & roll band, or the bluesy character study of aimlessness "31st Fall." Although the songs are built on a standard guitar-bass-drums lineup, Anderson inserts vintage synths, pedal steel, and other interesting sounds to keep the album from feeling too samey. Low-key but heartfelt, Bar Room Semantics is a refreshing throwback to the more earnest end of the post-R.E.M. '80s indie rock scene.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason