Barnaby Jones's Handshake for a Heart has holy-shit factor
Handshake for a Heart EP1 and EP2 (Independent)
Barnaby Jones was the protagonist of a TV series of the same name that aired before you were born, and Barnaby Jones was also the name of the junior staff member from the British embassy who was photographed at the People’s Pleasure Palace in Pyongyang, clearly enjoying one of the rides in the company of none other than Kim Jong-un.
I’m guessing the Vancouver band Barnaby Jones took its name from the TV show and not the diplomat, but whatever the case, the five-piece is ambitious. The group has released two three-track EPs in its Handshake for a Heart series already, with a third due before the year is out. (Given how much of the year is left, here’s hoping it’s almost ready.) With a schedule like that, you’d think Barnaby Jones is hastily bashing these things out, but the songs suggest otherwise. Singer Dan Ross—who also plays guitar and piano—and his cohorts have fine-tuned these numbers down to the smallest detail. Consider “Little Notes”, which starts off as a mellow soft-rocker before slipping into horn-ornamented funk, and then spends its last couple of minutes blaring away like Iron Maiden on a neck-snapping prog-jazz kick. Words can’t really do justice to its holy-shit factor; luckily, you can stream the whole thing at the Band Camp website.
Barnaby Jones does have a tendency to slip into middle-of-the-road territory best left to the likes of Wide Mouth Mason, but these six songs boast enough unpredictable left turns that I’m willing to overlook that.