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June 2022 (NOAHFINNCE)
Album review

Gregor Barnett - Don't Go Throwing Roses In My Grave

A grown-up album that resonates with adult anxieties and sepia-tinged nostalgia.
Label: Epitaph Records
Released: 18th February 2022
Rating: ★★★★
Gregor Barnett - Don't Go Throwing Roses In My Grave
Published: 3:52 pm, March 16, 2022Words: Rob Mair.

As one-half of the Menzingers writing team, Greg Barnett's songs have become increasingly narrative-driven. While the view is that the Philadelphia group sing about waitresses and drinking and blue-collar life, much of that perpetuates thanks to Barnett's ability to write perfectly studied stories about the minutiae of small-town America.

So, it's something of a surprise that 'Don't Go Throwing Roses In My Grave' doesn't quite follow the same path as other similar storytelling songwriters when they've gone solo. Sure, there are nods to The Replacements' Paul Westerberg or The Gaslight Anthem's Brian Fallon – and as punk rock artists coming from the same world, that's understandable – but there's also something much more nuanced going on here.

It's undoubtedly Americana-tinged, but 'The First Dead Body I Ever Saw' has the black heart of a classic murder ballad, while the title track could find itself at home on modern country radio and not sound out of place. Both are uniformly outstanding.

Barnett's world-weary voice lends itself perfectly to this stylistic shift, and there's a lived-in soul to the likes of 'Anthem For The One I Love' and the emotionally-charged closing number 'Guest In Your House' that is achingly authentic.

There's probably just enough familiarity for longstanding Menzingers fans to get on board – and that's mainly because Barnett's voice and lyrics are so distinctive. But make no mistake, 'Don't Go Throwing Roses In My Grave' is a vast departure musically from the pit-friendly call-and-responses he's known for. Instead, it's a grown-up album that resonates with adult anxieties and sepia-tinged nostalgia.

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