Courtesy: Red Yarn Productions
Late last month, veteran children’s act Red Yarn released its latest full-length studio recording to the masses. Red Yarn’s Old Barn, the group’s fifth full-length studio recording, is yet another work from the Portland, Oregon-based act hat will appeal to country and bluegrass fans of all ages through its catchy country and bluegrass musical arrangements and its equally deep lyrical themes. This is proven in throughout the 12-song, 40-minute record. The record’s lead single, ‘Old Barn’ makes this wholly clear, as does the more subtle socially aware ‘Old Hen Cackled.’ ‘Till The Cows Come Home’ is yet another way in which this record proves to be such an enjoyable new offering for the whole family, but certainly not the last that could. Every one of the songs featured in the album could easily be cited in that statement. To that end, Red Yarn’s Old Barn proves in the end to be a record that is a family album in every sense of the word, and one that will appeal to the whole family.
Red Yarn’s new full-length album Red Yarn’s Old Barn is a family album that is certain to appeal to the whole family. That is especially the case for families that are fans of country and bluegrass music. This is due both to the record’s musical arrangements and its lyrical themes, which promote very positive ideals. ‘Old Barn,’ the record’s title track and opener – which the album’s companion booklet notes is based on an anonymous poem from the 1800s — is one prime way in which this statement is supported. Some changes are made lyrically between that poem and this work, but even with those changes, which will be discussed momentarily, the song becomes even more enjoyable than its source material. The song’s musical arrangement is a wonderful musical trip back in time to the old days of bluegrass and country western songs, complete with piano, banjo and guitar. Vocalist Andy Ferguson’s delivery conjures thoughts (interestingly enough) of Hank III, who pays his own tribute to the old days of country music. Between his vocal tonality and the whole of the instrumentation here, the whole makes this composition that will put a smile not only on children’s faces, but on the faces of the most seasoned purist country music aficionado. Lyrically, it will put just as much of a smile on the faces of more open-minded listeners as it promotes a positive message of inclusion. That’s made fully clear in the description of the song’s companion video. The video illustrates that message quite well complete with a U.S. flag hanging adjacent to a gay pride flag and animals of all kinds coming to the barn dance. Of course, country music and gay pride typically don’t go hand-in-hand, but it is nice to see someone bring the two together, and show that it’s possible to be a country music fan and open-minded. Lyrically, the song does a good job of presenting that message of inclusion as Furgeson sings, “It don’t matter whether/You got fur or you got feathers/If you walk on four legs or you walk on two/We’ll all feel better if we could all just be together/’Cause there’s room here in my old barn for you.” He drives his message of full societal inclusion as he sings, “The new sheriff from the town/Just tried to shut us down/Sayin’ who could stay and who must leave/But if you’re askin’ me/Well the only place to be/Is wherever/With whomever/You feel free.” Considering the day and age in which we live today and with people showing their hatred-filled souls so much, this message is one from which so many people could learn. Attacking others because of their language, religious beliefs, etc. is just wrong. Period. Considering this, it’s nice to see Red Yarn present this message right from the album’s outset. It’s just the start of the album’s positives, too and by connection, just one of the ways in which this record proves to be such a joy for the whole family. ‘Old Hen Cackled’ is another key entry to this record.
‘Old Hen Cackled’ is another key addition to Red Yarn’s Barn in part because of its musical arrangement, which changes things up from ‘Old Barn.’ This time, listeners get a song that is more of a bluesy composition that easily lends itself to comparisons to works from Derek Trucks Band, The Allman Brothers Band and other similar acts. That is meant in the most complimentary fashion possible. It should be noted here that this song, as clearly noted in the album’s companion booklet, is based on an African-American folk song that was especially made popular by Pete Seeger. Of course there are some additions and changes made here to adapt the song to the current state of affairs in America. It’s a simple work through its instrumentation and overall composition that is certain to have listeners tapping their feet. Lyrically, it’s just as important to discuss because once again, it uses its farm references to discuss a much bigger issue – that of racial equality and standing up for that right. This is inferred as Furgeson sings about the old hen’s cackling starting small, but eventually reaching The White House. It started with the hen “cackling” on the farm, then on the street, then the board room and then the court room before going as high as the White House. What he is saying here (or at least seems to be saying) is that even though some people call those calls for social change little more than “cackling,” they are in fact much more. They are important messages that can and do grow with those who are determined to be heard. As Furgeson sings to his young listeners, “Open up yours eyes and let yourself see that/All my little chickies got a right to be free.” Again, this is clearly a message promoting social and racial equality. Kudos are in order for yet again having such a deep and powerful message presented on a level that is accessible to young listeners, and in turn a starting point for parents to start discussions on the importance of standing up for change, yet another important issue. It’s just one more way in which Red Yarn’s Old Barn proves to be such an enjoyable album for the whole family, especially now in this nation’s current day and age. It still is not the last song that can be cited in supporting that statement. ‘Till The Cows Come Home’ is yet another example of that impressiveness.
‘Till The Cows Come Home is a moving composition that musically takes listeners once again back to the old days of country music, complete with slide guitar and gentle piano and drums. It’s an arrangement that conjures thoughts of those old smoky country dives in which the country bands of yesteryear would perform. Interestingly, there are moments in the arrangement that lend themselves to thoughts of John Denver’s hit ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads.’ Odds are that those comparisons were not intentional, but they are there. All things considered, this song’s arrangement is a beautiful piece that will certainly appeal to the most devout country music purists if only for its musical arrangement. Of course that arrangement is only one part of what makes this song stand out. Its lyrical theme plays its own importance in its whole. In regards to its lyrical content, the song seems to be centered on the story of the prodigal son (I.E. familial love). It does this by telling the story of a farmer who let his animals free to do their own things and experience life. In the end, the animals came back, and were welcome with arms wide open. It’s an original way to present a familiar story, and one that reminds listeners of all ages the importance of a parent being there while allowing young people to grow and learn. That is, in essence, what the story of the prodigal son is about. It’s an allegory about a parent showing his/her love and support for children. All that Red Yarn has done here is update that allegory and make it accessible for this generation. Once again, it’s a wonderful way in which this record proves to be so enjoyable for listeners of all ages. It also is hardly the last way in which the album proves to be such a success. between it, the other directly noted songs and even those not noted here, the album in whole proves to be a work that country music purists of all ages will appreciate.
Red Yarn’s fifth full-length studio recording Red Yarn’s Old Barn is a record that is certain to appeal to country music purists of all ages. As has been pointed out, that is because of the record’s musical arrangements and to the variety of lyrical material presented throughout the album. The songs noted here do plenty to support that statement. They are hardly the only songs that could be cited in supporting that statement, too. ‘To Raise A Barn,’ presents the message of social unity and working together while also hinting at a former first lady’s message of it taking a village to raise a child. The inclusion of a cover of songwriter Bob Morris’ song ‘I’m Gonna Feed You Now’ – which was popularized by country legend Porter Wagoner – adds even more enjoyment to the record. It stays true to its source material, which will certainly please – again – any country music purist. ‘Go Little Gator’ is an original by Red Yarn that seems to pay tribute to Furgeson’s father and his (Furgeson’s) own childhood. There’s even a cover of the classic Appalachian folksong ‘Sally Anne’ included in the whole of the record. Between those songs and the pieces more directly discussed here, it becomes clear in examining the whole of the album that it will most certainly appeal to a wide range of listeners. From the newest to the most seasoned of country fans, this record offers something for everyone, both musically and lyrically. That being the case, Red Yarn’s Old Barn proves to be a true family music album and justifiably one of the best of the year in that category, too. It is available now. More information on Red Yarn’s Old Barn is available online now along with all of Red Yarn’s latest news at:
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