While Richmond punk rock greats Avail have justifiably been getting a lot of attention this year for a series of phenomenal live shows to mark their reunion, just as impressive is frontman Tim Barry’s latest offering.
The Roads To Richmond, Barry’s sixth album, though seemingly sonically a far cry from Avail’s blistering anthems, is just as powerful in its starkness. Continuing in the same stripped-down, folk punk vein as his earlier efforts, this latest feels like Barry’s most vulnerable yet. The lyrics read like pages from a journal as Barry, now a father with more responsibilities and different priorities heading down a much different path than one he was on in the late 80s when Avail first came together, shares more than he has on early records.
He recorded all of these songs in three-hour sessions, once a week, pulling from a stash of about 40 songs he’d been working on. Despite that vast well to pull from, the dozen tracks that made the record are all surprisingly cohesive, fitting perfectly into this collection.
Though there is definitely a somber feeling to much of The Roads To Richmond, there are hints of optimism that can be picked throughout. Songs like the sparse “Raised & Grown, or “Oh My darling,” about watching his daughter grow up, are Barry at his most honest and his most confident. A powerful companion to Avail’s recent return.