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Honey from the Ribcage
CD Album 2005 | Silber 036
10 tracks 40 minutes
$12 ($18 international, $5 download (256kbps, ~80 megs))
: Listen to the track Three Suns
: More info

"I'll trade you my black lung for the blades of your shoulders that carry the weight as we both are growing older."  What a brilliant line.  This collection of eccentric acoustic pieces is very warm & moving.  Despite the dark tone of the songs, the album has an almost "uplifting" feel to it.  Jamie's voice is soothing & gentle, & the production work is brilliant.  I would love to hear him perform a duet with fellow Silber vocalist Tara VanFlower someday.  All that is missing from this release is your ears.
~ Poseidon, Gothic Beauty

I absolutely love the first track, "Second Guess My Own," a quiet, somber-sounding ballad featuring quiet male lead vocals, beautifully reserved female back-up vocals that are layered on at times like an a capella church choir drone. It reminds me a lot of my favorite Low songs vocally, and some of my favorite Will Oldham songs musically, with gorgeously melancholy banjo picking and rhythm guitar making up the bulk of the instruments. Actually, I absolutely love all the songs on this, but this track alone is worth picking up the album, even though there's a whole other nine songs to enjoy as well! I'm not going to give a break-down of every single song on the disc, because if I did, and I did for every single CD that came across my desk, my fingers would be big and fat and meaty from the workout, and I'm not planning on having my wedding ring resized anytime soon. So you'll have to take my word for it - there's some really beautiful stuff here. Jamie Barnes has one of those rare, wonderful singing voices that sounds quite masculine despite being high-pitched, fragile and sweet. The music is just as good as the vocals, too, soft and sparse and near-acoustic and back-woods folky, oh, and the lyrics are all about death and loneliness and falling to pieces somewhere out in the middle of nowhere.
~ Holly Day, Cosmik Debris

Following Jamie Barnes' highly impressive debut album The Fallen Acrobat (reviewed in last issue's Silber article) comes the new one, Honey from the Ribcage, which is just as high-quality. Barnes makes bedroom pop, but with far more sophistication than is normally associated with that genre. Extremely well-written songs are accompanied by a whole host of adventurous instruments such as banjo, glockenspiel, ocarina, melodica, sitar, tablas and music box, alongside the more usual guitar. Part indiepop, part country, part atmospheric sound manipulation, part classic songwriting that transcends genre, and shot through with an engaging sense of melancholy and strong creativity, I recommend this album to all music lovers.
~ Kim Harten, blissaquamarine

Having grown up north of the Ohio River, I have heard, by way of my parents and through the “enlightened” culture of a suburb north of the water, that Kentucky is a backward state, full of hicks with garbled accents and underdeveloped towns passed over by Cincinnati progress. And while a so-called “Northerner” would never think to move across the river, she would take her family to one of the many inspiring caves — just as my family did years ago.
It is reassuring, then, to hear Jamie Barnes on this, his second album following 2003’s The Fallen Acrobat. Whether or not he is an exception to the rural Kentucky norm (I’m guessing, from his self-styled description “a spiritual expectorant,” that the questions and confessions on Honey from the Ribcage are markers along a road of inner fray, one undoubtedly discouraged by both orthodox Ohioans and Kentuckians), his guitar plucks and good-natured strums are born from the Louisville dirt and from his clearly formative religious upbringing. Jamie is young (as am I), and his words occupy that space in which hesitancy and audacity merge for a revelation he will gladly take credit for but will never be sure of its endurance. We all do such things.
In “Pearly Gate & Son Pest Control,” he sings, “Five in 10 of surveyed Americans admit arranging to slay their firstborn / Baby, you don’t know the feeling, you don’t know the feeling, you don’t know.” If he appears confident in his pointed anxieties over Old Testament teachings, then it is only for a moment, as his uncertainty towards these questions closes the album: “If I am found to complain I hope it’s about something that’s easily changed / If it’s out of my hands, then I’m out of my brain to want to struggle with providence.”
Musically, Jamie’s folk music relies on the guitar and on his voice, two affective instruments in and of themselves, but further complimented by subtle layers of banjo, keyboards, tabla, melodica, sitar, and glockenspiel, among others. Chord progressions and acoustic solos are plaintive and modest, matching Jamie’s plain tone of voice and its almost apprehensive emotion. No one sound overpowers another, and the total effect is embracive while maintaining a sharp corner.
That edge is continually honed by the honesty and creativity of Jamie’s lyrics. In “All These Things Are So,” he sings, “True escape will only come for those in chains who shake foundations singing songs of praise / But you will know when you get old that all these things are so, all the things that you were told.” The weight of Jamie’s theological confrontation is such that the romantic reflection of “Oil Rig” feels decidedly pale, almost out of place. But this inconsistency is minor compared to the strength of the entire record.
All too appropriately, Jamie ends this album with a different kind of doubt than heard in the opening track, “Second Guess My Own.” Just as he struggled with long-term memory loss, so must he grapple with the persistence of shaken beliefs, singing, “If I find what I’m after I’ll let you know but if I don’t, just assume I’m still trying… I’m still trying…”
~ Brad Hirn, SickAmongthePure

There is a star being born here. Jamie's voice is effecting, hearfelt. The music and the sounds achieved on this recording are a perfect compliment to the quality of his voice. The flat, small-room sound of the drums on "Snow Angel," the crackly dry instruments on "Pearly Gate" (probably my favorite piece) are perfect, all of the little touches of percussion and plucked instruments really fill out the texture. This album was obviously approached with a great deal of care, attention to detail, and with enormous passion and love for the music itself.
~ Static Signals

Sad boy sings sad country-tinged songs. The melodies are pretty and the music is quite good, however I don't think I fall into the target demographic for this. (i.e. I'm not a bummed out indie boy, nor am I a sad indie girl, and I'm not a sneaky non-indie boy trying to score w/sad college girls...) And the song "Snow Angel"; is he singing a love song to a Yeti? "When you fell into my arms you left a snow angel in my heart....When you fell off the radar grid into the Himalayan ranges where you hid..." What the people at Silber need to do is get this into the hands of the music director for the Gilmore Girls.
~ Neddal Ayad, Foxy Digitalis

Barnes is "honey," homespun.  This, the second LP he's recorded in his Louisville home studio, is a rich, folky Americana tapestry more fleshed out than his debut, The Fallen Acrobat, featuring spiritualized, double-tracked vocals, &, where it suits him, bits of tabla, banjo, keyboards, melodica, sitar, music box, & glockenspiel.  But the focus remains him, his hushed vocals, & his acoustic guitar, full of real rumination.  Barnes has overcome some problems, & his material steadfastly delves into his struggle with prescription drugs ("Red Prescription") & the scary memory loss they caused ("Second Guess My Own"), as well as the puritanism of his Christian Kentucky rearing.  But the mood of the LP is aromatic, thanks to his restrained touch on the guitar& his singing's expressing his wonder at the pastoral playpen he lives in.  Best lyric: "Idolatry is the lover's defect."  And how.
~ Jack Rabid, The Big Take Over

Jamie Barnes' sophomore effort is a pleasant listen that shows once again that one-man bands can be pretty detailed things these days, given home-recording capabilities. The list of instruments played is as long as one's arm, but the key needs to be whether or not it's all worth something in the end. On balance, it is, though Honey from the Ribcage is more contemplative than in your face, often creating an easy feeling not all that far removed from, say, Dan Fogelberg — but if that doesn't raise hackles automatically, then there's nothing to fear. As it is, Barnes has more on his mind than reflections on masculinity during the Carter Administration, with songs touching on Biblical themes (the album title refers to the story of Samson) and questions of spirituality slowly, gently unfolding across the course of 40 minutes. Barnes' warm, softly yearning voice is instantly calming, an instrument in its own right that suggests lazy hours on a porch during a warm spring evening. That he can tackle the kind of subjects and language almost more familiar from the rampages of the Swans or Nick Cave's extremities on gentler songs like "Three Suns" and make it work is well to his credit. The album's only guest, Will Cummings, adds some great organ and harmonies on "Red Prescription," but Barnes' harmonies with himself stand up just fine elsewhere. Musically, Barnes' attention to detail often comes to the fore unexpectedly — consider how the echo and what sounds initially like soft trumpet during the break on "Snow Angel" add a cascading depth to a strong song. The jauntier swing of "Pearly Gate & Son Pest Control" — which has an absolutely brilliant title and perversely humorous lyrical conceit in addressing unsettling subject matter about sin and a vengeful deity — shows yet another side to this surprisingly complex album.
~ Ned Raggett, All Music Guide

It's kind of interesting to see smaller independent labels such as Silber Records around. They seem to be releasing quite a few different styles and support the smaller independent artists around. Of course it depends on your own taste what record to pick out of their diverse catalogue, but this morning I was so surprised when I played this cd by this rather unknown singer songwriter Jamie Barnes, that I can’t but advice it to you. I’m not an expert when it comes down to singer songwriter music, but I do firmly enjoy the music by Cat Power, Bright Eyes, Elliot Smith and Mary Timony for instance.
The opening track "Second Guess My Own" sets the mood for the entire record. Crystal clear simple voices, soft and intimate backed up by a single acoustic guitar (for now) and more instruments (later on). This song sets you in a positive mood on rainy Sunday mornings. "Snow Angel" is an intimate heartbreaking ballad, backed up by an easy finger picking guitar. Quite good and just too short to fully taste the sweetness. And yes, several of these songs make me want to replay them. Some more of my favorite tracks on here are Three Suns, "Black Lung" and "All These Things Are So". Jamie definitely shows his skills in writing songs that take you away to a dreamy place with soft tickling rain and a little sunshine. Not depressing at all, but intimate and soft, gentle enough to make yourself melt away on dreamy guitars and sweet melodies.
Jamie Barnes is promising. This is singer songwriter music in a simple, honest, and laid back way. It creates a dreamy atmosphere and makes you want to get cosy in the couch with a book or stuff like that. It’s not too heavy-hearted. The lay-out has a combination of photographic images with some paintings over and through them. I had to get used to this in the beginning, but over all it grows on you and it fits the music very well. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on Jamie Barnes' future records. Good stuff and definitely my favorite Silber Records release up to now.
~ Ray Kluze, Semtex Magazine

Honey from the Ribcage is a showcase of the kind of subtle songs that won't beat you over the head and command attention, but rather linger with you, leaving a lasting impression. I find it quite difficult to say what it is that makes Jamie Barnes’ somewhat traditional folk pop so memorable and worthwhile but he wins me over already in the opening “Second Guess My Own,” which is an earnest and incredibly beautiful song about memory loss. “Red Prescription” ties a knot inside my gut with its sparse arrangements and powerful lyrics. Guitar and vocals remain the main musical ingredients throughout the album, but the inclusion of banjo, keyboards, glockenspiel, melodica, sitar, tabla and more makes this one go way beyond your regular singer-songwriter album.
The album screens a downcast but kaleidoscopic sound, spanning desolate folky ballads, bittersweet slow pop and slightly up-beat numbers. The mood is confessional and far from optimistic, but under the surface of desolation there's a tone of hope and one can’t help but to be touched by the stories present here. Barnes proves to be a very talented musician but he’s foremost an incredible storyteller and if you ask me I rate him as one of the most unique contemporary voices out there today. In terms of aesthetics Barnes makes me think of Greg Weeks so if you want the winter to hang on for a few more weeks you know exactly what you need to do.
~ Mats Gustafson, Ptolemaic Terrascope

Recorded in his home studio in Louisville, Kentucky, Honey From the Ribcage is an absorbing and effective collection of folk inspired soft pop tunes. Jamie Barnes is similar in many ways to Sufjan Stevens. His tunes are soft, personal, and reflective and his voice is subtle and subdued. For what is virtually a solo album (except for a couple of guest appearance by Will Cummings), Honey From the Ribcage is a surprisingly warm and genuine collection of tunes. Like Stevens, Barnes caresses his tunes in a nest of cool instruments including glockenspeil, melodica, sitar, tabla, ocarina, and more. Lyrics and melodies are the main focus of the album, however, and the songs are truly spectacular. In listening to this music, you almost get the feeling that you actually know this fellow. This is probably about as honest as music gets. Inspired cuts from start to finish. Highly recommended.
~ Babysue

Gosh, what a great album. I first heard the name Jamie Barnes late last year when Silber records offered a free online compilation of their artists performing Christmas songs and songs related to Christmas & winter. Silber records describe Jamie’s music as ‘American bedroom pop,’ which is a bit of an odd description and I think it may throw some people off as to what Jamie actually does with his music. If truth were to be told I really don’t know how to describe his music to well either or what the popular term would be explain this guys music, but one thing is for sure and that is that Jamie make’s some great music.
Jamie’s songs are basically mellow acoustic guitar songs that remind me of artists like Low and Sophia (The American one) with influences from pop, folk, and country music. The songs primarily consist of just Jamie’s voice and acoustic guitar, but throughout the album instruments like banjo, keyboards, glockenspiel, melodica, sitar, tabla, ocarina, and drums make occasional appearances as well. Jamie has a very delicate soft soothing voice that fits these rich songs to well, and his somewhat obscure lyrics really come to life and make total sense as he sings his heart out. The songs are generally rather tranquil in nature while some are a bit more disheartening, and some are a bit more up tempo, and really get my foot tapping well.
The album as a whole it really just excellent, but the songs "Red Prescription" & "Pearly gate & son pest control" stand out the most for me. "Red Prescription" is a soft, melancholic, and really beautiful catchy song about Jamie’s addiction to prescription drugs. His voice, guitar playing, the keyboards, and harmonious in this song are just so heartfelt that it practically brings a tear to my eye each time I listen to this cordial song. On the other hand "Pearly gate & son pest control" is one of the more up tempo songs on the record, which again is very catchy and genuine sounding and will easily get caught in your mind after just one listen. I’m also relatively fond of the songs "All these things are so" & "Three suns," but again the whole album is quite admirable overall.
When all's said and done if you enjoy mellow acoustic songs with a variety of influences and a variety of instruments than be sure to have a listen to Jamie Barnes’ latest album Honey from the Ribcage.
~ Blackwinged, Lunar Hypnosis

It would be prosaic to say this is a modern folk album start to finish, even though it is. The whole thing is strummed on Barnes’ acoustic guitar with scant musical accompaniment, his James Taylor meets Jackson Browne voice delivering thoughtful, considered lyrics, mostly about love and human relationships.
It’s also a singer-songwriter’s concurrent dream and nightmare, the kind of long-player that inspires one guy to write the world’s greatest record in a furious swing of one-upmanship while shaming another to put his guitar away forever, struck by the sudden thwack realization he’ll never write a song as good as “Red Prescription.” I have now listened to that song seven times in a row, and having already played through the other nine songs three times, I can’t let it go past track three again. The craft of this song is staggering. A poignant tale about being addicted to prescription drugs and the paralyzing indifference that accompanies such things, the song is on par with the best Simon and Garfunkel ever plucked out. It’s flush with the rest of the record, a dazzling triumph for any songwriter willing to get this musically naked.
~ Stephen George, Leo

Having already reviewed Jamie Barnes' The Fallen Acrobat CD (see AI #26) it wasn't such a shock this time around. By that I mean an acoustic driven singer/songwriter is not what I typically hear when a Silber Records package shows up in the mail. But to hell with expectations… I'm a sucker for a well written and performed song. And as singer/songwriters go Jamie is a damn fine practitioner of the trade. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Jamie plays a brand of folk music with a real Americana feel, while walking just far enough off the beaten path to keep the listener engaged throughout this enjoyable set of ten songs. He strums a gorgeous melody, has a pleasant picking style and has the perfect singing voice for this type of music. In addition to guitar and vocals Jamie plays banjo, keyboards, glockenspiel, melodica, sitar, tabla, ocarina, music box and drums, with guests helping out on keyboards and ebow. Folk music fans and anyone into heartfelt songs will find much to enjoy on Honey from the Ribcage.
~ Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations

Jamie Barnes plays a brand of folk-rock that is similar to that created at regular intervals by Devendra Banhart. However, Jamie takes more than a little hint from sixties-rock (America, Neil Young) and this is why Honey From the Ribcage far out-strips much of the earlier-influenced folk rock of the current period. The bouncy sound of “”Pearly Gate and Son Pest Control” shows a little more of that sixties-influence, and really solidifies the sound of the disc. Jamie Barnes really comes forth on this album with a style of rock (albeit secularized) that during tracks like “Three Suns”, that goes near the type of music that Jars of Clay was trying to do during “Much Afraid”. Fans of pop-rock, folk, and of good music with enjoy Jamie do the simplistic yet catchy style of music that is committed to this disc. The aforementioned “Three Suns” titillates listeners by taking sections from nineties-alternative rock, frat-rock and a whole host of different sounds. Jamie succeeds due to his musical “melting pot”. Jamie comes through with something that surpasses Rufus Wainwright, Hayden, and even the ultra-overrated Elliot Smith; Honey From the Ribcage is the indie-rock album to pick up this year.
~ James McQuiston, Altar Magazine

Here Jamie Barnes comes really close in vocal style to Rivulets. It’s a beautiful and sad voice, with its innocence and loneliness. He accompanies his music with acoustic guitar, keyboards, glockenspiel, melodica, sitar, tabla, ocarina, music box, drums, with the music giving the songs an extra delicate sweetness. On “White Owl” Will Cummins plays E-bow guitar. A part of the sadness, if I can dig it out well, comes forth from “a black lung”, the wrong medicine and the memory loss it caused and all struggles that came with it. Never the less the singing is from a calm perspective, and the voice itself is detached with clarity. A beautiful document.
~ Singer-Songwriters

Best to listen from beginning to end. Thematically and as a concept it’s perfect. Songs are about a lung disease and amnesia through medicine.
~ Gerald Van Waes, Psyche van het folk

Het verhaal van een jongeman die in het reine komt met zijn streng religieuze opvoeding in ruraal Kentucky en een persoonlijke strijd voert over spirituele vragen. Dit meldt het persbericht over Honey From The Ribcage (Silber), de tweede cd van Jamie Barnes. En dat allemaal in nog geen veertig minuten; anderen bouwen een heel oeuvre op deze onderwerpen. Zoals te verwachten is, hebben we hier niet te maken met een vrolijke plaat. Angsten, onzekerheden, demonen, duivels en een veelheid aan bijbelse verwijzingen kleuren de cd tekstueel. De zwaarheid van de thema's staat soms in contrast met de muziek, die soms verrassend lichtvoetig is. Jamie Barnes speelt vrijwel alle instrumenten zelf. Veelal is dat de akoestische gitaar, maar we horen verder onder meer ook banjo, toetsen, drums, glockenspiel, melodica, sitar, tabla en ocarina. Nam Barnes zijn debuut The Fallen Acrobat (recensie) nog op in zijn slaapkamer, inmiddels is er in zijn huis ruimte voor een huisstudio. Honey From The Ribcage is een persoonlijke plaat van iemand die zijn ellende van zich afspeelt en –zingt. Af en toe is het me wat té navelstaarderig, maar regelmatig weet Barnes er gewoon een mooi liedje uit te persen. Zoals opener "Second Guess My Own" (over zijn geheugenverlies), "Red Prescription" (over de medicijnen die dat geheugenverlies veroorzaakten), "Oil Rig" (een uitgeputte oliebron als metafoor voor een tanende liefde) en "All These Things Are So." Jamie Barnes doet met Honey From The Ribcage een flinke stap vooruit ten opzichte van zijn debuut. Een cd voor de liefhebbers van - bijvoorbeeld – Elliott Smith en Will Oldham.
~ Peer Bataille, Alt Country

Reprenant à sa façon une tradition de song-writing typiquement américaine, Jamie Barnes donne dans une folk-country lo-fi souvent bercée de mélancolie ("Three Suns," "All These Things Are So"). De jolies ballades qu’on imagine écrites dans quelques sordides chambres de motels ou chantonnées le long d’interminables highways, tel est le périple auquel nous convie ce second album Honey From the Ribcage. Un trip à travers les plaines et les montagnes du Grand Ouest bercé au son d’un banjo, d’une guitare, de quelques claviers et xylophones, la recette est minimale mais terriblement exotique.
~ Premonition

Bastano poche note per una poesia.
La musica è semplicità ma troppo spesso gli artisti si intestardiscono a complicarsi la vita schiavi dell’apparire, della sperimentazione o del desiderio di mostrarsi alternativi.
A Jamie Barnes tutto ciò non interessa: ringraziamo dio!
‘Honey From The Ribcage’ è un disco elegante, malinconico, introspettivo e poetico in grado di conquistarvi sin dal primo ascolto. Il giovane cantautore statunitense, giunto alla seconda uscita discografica (ricordiamo il precedente ‘The Fallen Acrobat’ datato 2003), ci regala un’opera di una bellezza ed intelligenza straordinaria.
Apparentemente la sua musica fa leva su soffuse melodie, ma nel momento in cui si va a scavare al di sotto della patina folk pop-rock che ricopre l’intero album troviamo un’eterogeneità di strumenti impressionante: chitarra acustica, tastiere, banjo, sitar, ocarina etc. etc. L’album riesce a non essere mai aggressivo, ciò nonostante è impensabile poter parlare di noia. I brani, pur essendo piuttosto simili tra loro, riescono a vivere di vita propria mostrando tutto il loro splendore ed incantando l’ascoltatore.
Per il sottoscritto trattasi di un’autentica sorpresa e spero che il nome di questo giovane cantautore possa sconfinare al più presto al pari di Neil Young e Nick Drake. Jamie Barnes e’ un patrimonio da tutelare e da far conoscere a tutti i vostri conoscenti!
~ Lux, Kronic

Etichetta che spazia dal dark etero di Lycia all'improvvisazione ibrida dei Rollerball, l'americana Silber sta scovando validi rappresentanti di un nuovo cantautorato emergente dall'humus post-rock.  E' accaduto con le ipnotiche drone song di Remora, ma ancor piu degna di nota e la seconda prova di Barnes, la cui voce puo ricordare Donovan nel dolce modulato e Nick Drake nel fievole tono confessionale, pur muovendosi in una sua dimensione attuale.  Cresciuto con ferrea educazione religiosa nelle campagne del Kentucky, Jamie soffre di una grave forma di perdita di memoria e in alcuni brani riferisce della sua odissea medica, forse non estranea alla cura con cui annota piccole sensazioni ed eventi, quasi per timore di perderli per sempre.  Melodie di gran suggestione e arrangiamenti caldi ed essenziali per un autore che non deludera i cultori di nu folk.
~ Vittore Baroni, Rumore

Vždy? je to tak jednoduché! Nato?it pár písni?ek doma na akustickou kytaru (basu, bicí, banjo, housle,...), s pomocí dvou kámoš? p?ito?it další pot?ebné nástroje, které ješt? neovládám, a je to! Málokomu se to ovšem poda?í s tak omra?ující samoz?ejmostí jako Jamie Barnesovi na jeho druhé desce Honey From The Ribcage (debut se zove The Fallen Acrobat). A p?itom nejde o objevování neznámých teritorií. Americký folkrock hraje každá druhá kutálka a texty o ztrát? dlouhodobé pam?ti a boji se závislostmi všeho druhu taky nejsou krokem mimo klasická žánrová schémata. P?esto si troufám tvrdit, že recenzovaná deska je mimo?ádná.
První, co m? na obhajobu tohoto faktu napadá, je pokora. Klid sálající z Jamieho hudby mi p?ipomíná slunce p?inášející sound dnes již bohužel neexistující party The Sundays ?i podobný optimismus neustále ?inných Mojave 3 kombinovaných s klidnou silou Tracy Chapman a nejsv?tlejšími chvilkami jinak excelentních depka?? Red House Painters (viz album Ocean Beach). Sametový st?ídmý zvuk je korunován p?íjemným vokálem ála Evan Dando z Lemonheads a podle pot?eby zdvojován. V hudb?, na rozdíl od text?, ne?ekejte nervní ?ešení osobních trabl?. Ty Jamie na nikoho nenakládá, pouze o nich v?cn? a nesentimentáln? referuje. Ví totiž, že každodenní boj se sebou samým k životu pat?í a každý si svou porci trápení nese ve svém nitru. Po hudební stránce se naopak snaží, jak už název alba napovídá, život alespo? trochu osladit tím nejlepším, co je jeho melodická múza schopná vydat. A poda?ilo se. Úrodná p?da kentuckého vesnického st?edovýchodu vydala nadmíru vyda?ené plody. Tohle je hudba vyrovnaného muže. Mínus pouze za designbalu (opravdu jeden z nejhorších, které jsem m?l možnost spat?it).
~ Pavel Zelinka,