It’s not that common for an album title to totally describe the record in the few words that titles tend to be. In this case, the title Bare Bones fits the music perfectly. Tom Caulfield has created an album which is pretty much him playing acoustic guitar and singing, and that is “Bare Bones” in the truest sense of the word. Not to say that the album is devoid of positive characteristics as you would think when hearing that an album is “bare bones”. Instead, Caulfield has created an album where the sound is simple yet complex. I hate to use clichés like that, but just go with it. He doesn’t attempt to go crazy with his guitar work, instead using a minimalist style that works better for the album then if he had focused on playing the most notes possible. In this case, the fact that the playing is more basic is one of the albums most enduring qualities.
The album starts off with Good You Got Away, a pretty basic song to begin the journey. Right off the bat, it’s apparent that this is one of those albums which is great to relax to. There are many albums where you can only listen to at times. Who listens to heavy metal when they are attempting to sleep? Well some people…but for the vast majority of humanity, not such a good plan. In this situation, Bare Bones proves to be a really flexible album from the listener’s point of view. It is great to listen to late at night after a day of work to unwind. It’s also great to listen to as a soundtrack to work (I just got a job…trust me this album helped to get me through the first week).
When it comes to the actual musicianship on the album I have to admit that it is pretty good. For a recording that’s really basic without lots of studio effects, it sounds really good. Give credit to Caulfield and Nick Tann (producer) on that one. It’s admittedly pretty standard music, not much in terms of innovation. Still, the music, despite its limitations at first glance, really holds up.
The high point on the album, both lyrically and musically is probably the fourth track, Miss Valentine’s Last Stand. If you are looking for a great song, look no further. The guitar work on this track is superb, as it’s pretty straightforward and Caulfield doesn’t really go overboard with the notes on this song. Truthfully this is a great thing, sometimes on an album where it’s a singer and an acoustic guitar sometimes the best songs are the most musically unassuming ones. Here’s the thing though, as much as the album isn’t overly dense with musical components, it’s still deep enough to show off Caulfield’s talent.
When it comes to negatives on the album, there are a few issues. One critique I have of the EP is with its length. Now before you start laughing and want to take away my computer so I can never review another album…think about what that means. Pretty much, I am a fan of Caulfield’s music and I wish it was a full length album so I could hear more of it.
In terms of an actually negative trait, I would probably have to mention the fact that while Caulfield is a very good singer for the most part; his voice tends to crack a bit on the high notes. It doesn’t happen often, and it’s not really egregious enough to bring down the grade on the album, but it is present to an extent. An example of this is in the fifty second range of Miss Valentine’s Last Stand. Again, it’s a slight issue and to be honest, I am nitpicking a bit.
Overall, Tom Caulfield has produced a very enjoyable acoustic album that should be in pretty much anybody’s collection. To download the album, check out my Get Music Here section, where there will be a link to this album.