Missouri’s clearest voice since a certain steamboat pilot, Barna Howard is a meticulous craftsman. His are songwriters’ songs, weaving melody, narrative and gravity in ways only the best have. He comes to the listener like some overlooked great, reincarnated for one last shot.
Barna Howard was born and raised in a quintessential Midwest town. His youth in Eureka, Missouri was pure Americana – the sort of childhood that inspired E.T.-era Spielberg – baseball cards in his bicycle spokes, flying freely down Main Street and through neighbors’ backyards.
However, much of Barna’s story is not unique to his hometown, and, like most of small town America, Eureka has lost some of that charm over time. Main Street has changed, kids don’t run around quite so carelessly, and in an almost laughably cruel twist, his childhood home was knocked down in favor of a Walmart parking lot.
After high school, Howard moved north to study animation in one cold and windy city and then east for love in another. Years later, he blindly followed two friends to the Northwest, crossing the Rockies for the first time, in search of inspiration, opportunity and a fresh start.
Barna’s self-titled debut chronicled these moves as he struggled with the contrast between his small town upbringing and these big city wanderings. The album was met with critical acclaim and underground success, partly thanks to an opportunely placed song in the hit indie film, Drinking Buddies. One critic even likened him to some “lost genius of the 60’s.”
The songs on Barna Howard’s second album, Quite A Feelin’, ruminate on his relationship with home. Now entrenched in Portland, Oregon, many of the album’s tracks immortalize and reflect on the Eureka he once knew, while others focus on the relationships that define his new home out west. Small town life has long been celebrated in country and folk music, but Barna’s knack for capturing his own deeply personal nostalgia resonates in a rarely universal way.
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