Review: Barnabas Sky – Inspirations
Pride & Joy Music (November 19th 2021)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
Barnabas Sky is a solo project from guitarist and composer Markus Pfeffer of Lazarus Dream and Winterland fame. What Markus has done for this release is written songs and then contacted singers that have inspired him over the years to sing on the songs he constructed specifically for them. After listening to the album numerous times, there are two things that stick out about this release, the roster of singers and the production.
The list of singers on this release is impressive. Danny Vaughn, Zak Stevens, Jesse Damon and Danny Martinez Jr. each sing two songs. Rob Rock and Steve Grimmett are also featured on one song each. Markus plays to their strengths by having them sing songs that are within their comfort zone. Danny Vaughn and Danny Martinez Jr. stick to the more soulful rock tracks. Rob Rock and Steve Grimmett are given the faster paced songs. No one sounds out of place here. Regarding the production, I loved the sound of this recording. The instrumentation sounds sharp and crisp, but Markus’s guitar has a distorted tone throughout the album. This distortion puts the guitar front and center, certainly noticeable, but doesn’t take away from the other participants. It spices up what is predominantly a groove-based hard rock record.
So let’s discuss some standout tracks. Danny Vaughn’s opener ‘Legends Rise’ sets a wonderful tone. Intense and rockin’ without being too fast paced, Danny sounds in fine form here (as always) and brings a tremendous amount of heart to a song about aspiring to rise up and overcome. I love the wobbly guitar pedal trickery in the bridge. It gives it a late 70s vibe. The Jesse Damon track ‘Youngblood’ starts out with what seems to be a ballad but then becomes a full-blown rocker by verse 2. The chorus has background vocals that feature Paul Sabu shouting out the song’s title and makes it the kind of track you would want to listen to while working out. Steve Grimmett’s ‘Never Enough’ also has a great chorus, with Steve also contributing to the background vocals and his vibrato elevates the track. However, my favorite song is ‘Breathe Again’. Markus Pfeffer does a great job on this album, but his playing shines here. The fret noodling, particularly in the chorus, is fantastic. This song should have been released as a single, which brings me to my next point.
I found the first single, ‘In My Mind’ to be one of the weaker tracks on the album. I’m surprised this is the song they chose to represent the band’s debut album. Second single, ‘Till The End of Time’ is a better song, but still not the best this album has to offer. While the album has some great songs and excellent singers, I did find that the second half of the album is stronger than the first.
It really is a no-brainer for folks who are familiar with this singer roster. The singers we’ve loved for years all still sound great and the material is top-notch stuff. While there are some tracks that are weaker, there are no bad songs and all of them are worthy of your attention. Definitely check this album out and I would love to see this project continue in the near future.