Album review: JIMMY BARNES – Hindsight

Jimmy Barnes - Hindsight

Provogue [Release date  27.10.14]

While there’s still a healthy roll call of artists who can look back on a 30 year recording career, few of them still retain the fire and range of Australia’s adopted Scotsman Jimmy Barnes.

‘Hindsight’ is full of little milestones, including various revisited career pit stops in a series of frisson busting duets with family and friends, of which the ripping funky stomp ‘Stand Up’ with his daughter Mahalia (and her band The Soul Mates) is the highlight.

Jimmy is a versatile and powerful vocalist reminiscent of Bon Scott and Frankie Miller, with a soulful edge that recalls John Fogerty. ‘Hindsight’ is produced by the familiar figure of Kevin Shirley whose AOR leanings provide the perfect context for Jimmy enduring tenor.

Significantly, the UK copy of the album has quietly dropped a rocky duet with Keith Urban in favour of a brace of ballads, including ‘Still On Your Side’ which seals Jimmy authoritative style.

You pays your money and you takes your choice, and while there’s no denying Jimmy’s natural hubris, the aim of the album is clearly to present a mature rocker basking in the autumn of his career.

The duets act as a perfect foil for a vocalist who attacks his material with an unrelenting ferocity that continues to mark him out as unique. It’s a shame that the album tries just a little too hard for commercial accessibility, with tracks like ‘Lay Down Your Guns’ sounding like a 70’s retro rocker with a melodic hook.  He teams up with brother-in-law Diesel (Mark Lizotte) on ‘I’d Die To Be With You Tonight’, to channel his natural rocking exuberance to a commercial end, with a big uplifting hook over a layered sound and a rising guitar break that ends too quickly

Unsurprisingly he sounds closer to Southside Johnny on Little Steven’s ‘Ride The Night Away’ and phrases passionately with Tina Arena over Joe Bonamassa’s imperious guitar figure and mixed back horns to rescue the rather tame ‘Stone Cold’.

There are no half measures with Jimmy Barnes. He plays to his strengths and belts out his rough edge timbre over a series of coherent arrangements that include the surprisingly polished ‘Going Down Alone’ with Journey members Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain, and the harder edged word-play ‘Love And Hate’ with kiwi alt rock band Shihad.

‘Hindsight’ is a solid album that at its best finds Jimmy in sparkling duet mode. Longer term fans probably would have preferred more rock, but given it’s a 30 year solo career celebration, whose arguing?  ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

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