Lou Barlow

The Parish--SXSW

March 17, 2005

Lou Barlow is a prolific songwriter that can often be great. From what he played off his upcoming album, "EMOH," at The Parish during a Merge Records SXSW showcase Thursday night, the record should be well-received.

The new songs didn't deviate from Barlow's formula with Sebadoh and Sentridoh. He played stripped down, acoustic songs that mixed up Neil Young, Willie Nelson, and Low. The songs were still pensive and sometimes overly earnest, but he thankfully managed to marry his M.O. with the catchiness of Folk Implosion. A great example and the best song of the night was "Holding Back The Year." It was a reserved ditty about overcoming tragedy with a loved one. Barlow's wispy and sweet voice changed with the chords. He used a special microphone that fuzzed out his vocals. "Year" was one of those undeniable songs I hear that make me want to challenge anyone to not like it.

A tone of thankful peace and a need for love pervaded his songs, but there was also juvenile vitriol that seemed diary-removed.

Barlow had a patient and conceding tone as he gave up a ghost on "Puzzle." The song sported a subjective, "oh, well," look back yet peered optimistically into the future.

Barlow was endearingly cranky throughout the set. He came off as a grizzled veteran that wasn't impressed. But, he sent out a touching thanks to Merge Records, who he described as nice people that created an environment where he could prosper.

Look out for Barlow's new tunes in May.

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