Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Barnabas - Find Your Heart A Home
   
Musical Style: Hard Rock Produced By:
Record Label: Tunesmith / Retroacdtive Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 1982 / 2017 Artist Website: Barnabas
Tracks: 7 Rating: 80%
Running Time:

Barnabas - Find Your Heart A Home - Light Records version

Find Your Heart A Home.  As the title to the Tunesmith Records 1982 Barnabas sophomore album attests, its about finding a place of rest - where one dwells permanently or resides so to speak - for all the components of our soul and conscience, our mind, emotions and inner being.  I do not wish to get too deep or philosophical - this is only a record review mind you - but I feel the words to the Find Your Heart A Home title track sum things up succinctly: 

The evil you see looks just as evil to me
The only difference is I know the reason
And all the prophets of doom are not a minute too soon
It’s no secret that we're in our last season

And the words that we write; we make darn sure that they bite
Although we know that they could get us in trouble
But there's a serpent in town who wants to push you around
We think it’s time we busted his bubble

Comes a time to realize that life ain't what it's cracked up to be
So what's it mean to really be free?
You've got to find your heart a home…

What can we surmise from this?  Despite the days being few and a deceiver in your midst, in order to be truly fee we need to do as the band suggests- find our heart a home!  I cannot help but think the songs prose captures the spirit of Ephesians 3:16-17 in this capacity:

‘I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith’.

With the November of 2017 Retroactive Records re-mastering and re-issue of the first three Barnabas albums, including not only Find Your Heart A Home but also debut Hear The Light (1980) and Approaching Light Speed (1983), I was given opportunity to revisit the Barnabas back catalog after a several year layoff.  I started with Hear The Light, which while not my favorite Barnabas album (noting my 75% review) with its amalgamating of hard rock and punk/new wave elements, it served to highlight the abilities of the trio of flagship performers that founded the group: vocalist Nancy Jo Mann, bassist Gary Mann and drummer Kris Klingensmith.

Find Your Heart A Home, on the other hand and much to my chagrin, I passed on back in the day and did not take opportunity to listen to until its 1999 re-issue on M8 Records.  Hence, it was with great surprise that I found the group - as many do between their debut and sophomore releases - to have made significant steps and strides musically by abandoning its punk/new wave ways for a more mature joining of classic rock and progressive rock that runs the gamut from heavy rocking to blues infused to even funk driven.  Gone are the simplistic song structures and occasional outside the box elements, replaced by a more distinctive sound from a band that has come into its own and discovered its own musical identity.

Production to Find Your Heart A Home (at least as I heard it on the M8 re-issue) left somewhat desired, but credit the Retroactive re-mastering by breathing new life into source material that has its obvious limitations.  Main benefactors are bass and drums, which gain from an overall cleaner sound, in addition to guitars that now come across better defined.  Likewise, improved jewel case packaging features a professionally done 12-page mini booklet with vintage band photos, write-ups, band history and lyrics.

Lone line up change to report is the departure of co-founding member and guitarist Monte Colley and his replacements, Mick Donner and Kris Brauninger.  Albums opening title track finds the two at the top of their game, as they bestow a wealth of airtight guitar harmonies and duel leads to a song that proves undisguised with its forward moment.  “Find Your Heart A Home” otherwise shines from how it joins a buoyant boogie rock feel and use of heightened piano with the impassioned vocals of front lady Nancy Jo Mann.

“The Conflict Of Desire” reflects a heavier feel with its classic rock meets the progressive leanings.  The song perpetuates a decided riff mentality and backs it with stable undercurrents of Gary Mann’s bass, with the upshot an uplifted ambience that nearly matches that of the title track.  I particularly enjoy how “The Conflict Of Desire” closes its final two minutes instrumentally as it slows to a near standstill for acoustic guitar only to regain its focused form for an intense run of soloing.  Impression left is two completely different songs glued back to back (needless to say, it works).  Lyrics dealing with temptation prove every bit relevant today:

The holy life eludes us, a mirage upon the sand
The passions that torment us, we jump at their command
Like the tiny, fragrant flower that traps the hungry fly
To set our soul on things below will choke us 'till we die

We set our brains on fire with the spark from an angry heart
Running out to feed our flesh as soon as the sky is dark
As lightning tears the sky apart, so will His next coming be
'Till then creation groans to be free

“Way To Destruction” maintains the unswerving momentum of its predecessors and then some.  The song comes across turbulent in form, churning and battering its length as Klingensmith sets the blazing low-end tone with his vehement timekeeping abilities.  Of note is how significant stretches to “Way To Destruction” are instrumental, including its opening drum solo and extended break at the midpoint to highlight a classic rock influenced jam band feel with complementary keyboard and guitar duel.

If the album has not already delivered enough up-tempo momentum, it provides further resilient energy in “Boogie Tyme”.  As its title implies, the song gives prominence to a boogie flavored funk feel with clapping hands, punchy bass, grooving guitars and dance-based resonance to boot.  Chanted boogie tyme’ backing vocals step forward to underscore the direct as it gets refrain, while rollicking low end aligns with the playful fee at hand.

After opening to four upbeat cuts, album moves in a mid-tempo heading with “Swordsman”.  An anthem-like arena rock feel prevails on this one, with a near perfect union of delicate keyboards and prodigious bass but also indicating an intricate refrain that proves equal parts pensive and sinuous (one of the albums finer, actually).  Best part might be the Led Zeppelin flair to the instrumental passage in which bluesy lead guitar drifts over blistering bass.  Lyrically, this one touches upon spiritual warfare themes:

But then I was shown from where the sword came
Given a purpose, and my enemy's name
The sword is the word
And victory is my purpose
The enemy is evil
But my strength is in God

Time was my teacher as I practiced my trade
Learning that swordsmen aren't created, but made
I studied the craft of the swordsmen of old
Learning to fight, learning how to be bold

Barnabas delivers big doses of southern heart and soul on aptly entitled “Southern Woman”.  An almost ballad like feel rises to the surface, as Nancy Jo stretches and shows the full breadth to her voice on a calmer, affecting piece that proves equal parts classic rock and blues rock as it chronicles a woman stuck in drug addiction but who in the end finds redemption:

Southern woman got a spirit from below
Won't let her leave this southern town
Southern woman sticks the needle in her arm
She tells herself this is the one
She takes her welfare check and runs it in her arm
She's got no food to feed her son

Southern woman finds a bible in the road
She takes it home with her that night
Southern woman's gonna lose that heavy load
Seems she's finally seen the Light

Guitar duo of Donner and Brauninger might not receive the accolades of those that came before (Cooley) and followed (the incomparable Brian Belew), but I find the work of the two underrated, particularly in light of how they decorate another extended instrumental run.  Perhaps it is just me, but Barnabas exhibited a bit more confidence in its instrumental sound as opposed to some Christian bands at the time, a particular I appreciate.

Album saves its magnum opus for last in the inspired Kansas like progressiveness to “Star”.  A full eight minutes, the song showcases the Barnabas musicianship by wrapping two extended instrumental jams around a pair of short but august verses.  First covers the opening two minutes by transitioning between moments both eloquent and sober, while second at the midpoint covers another four in featuring brisk lead guitar and bass in ample portions either way (Rush could not do it better).  Feel overall is grandiose and regal in touching upon an epic if not symphonic form; if recorded today with guitars beefed up “Star” might accurately fall under the ‘power/progressive metal’ heading.

Find Your Heart A Home reveals a talented band maturing and beginning to reach its peak form, at least in comparison to its somewhat uneven debut Hear The Light.  Impression left is that the new guitar team of Donner and Brauninger and bassist Gary Mann help Barnabas feel that much more comfortable within a progressive framework and find its true sound in the process, noting how the group maintained the progressive leanings on subsequent recordings.  Lone downside is that lost is much of the heaviness akin to Hear The Light in that Find Your Heart A Home mirrors a straight on rock feel with guitars downplayed when placed side by side.  That said, there is some outstanding material here, with “The Conflict Of Desire”, “Swordsman” and “Star” ranking with my favorites, although nothing is skip worthy and all is very good.  In the end, the polish to the Retroactive re-issue is the best version of the album I have heard and makes for a necessary purchase if disappointed with the M8 re-issue or are a Barnabas fan (not to mention the styles presented) and never previously heard the album on CD.     

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Find Your Heart A Home” (4:49), “The Conflict Of Desire” (4:53), “Way To Destruction” (4:42), “Boogie Tyme” (4:28), Swordsman” (3:51), “Southern Woman” (5:32), “Star” (7:46)

Musicians
Nancy Jo Mann - Lead Vocals
Mick Donner - Guitars
Kris Brauninger - Guitars
Gary Mann - Bass
Kris Klingensmith - Drums

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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