BJ Barham - Rockingham
American Aquarium are one of the most under-the-radar US bands of the last decade. They’ve had their minor successes, and been on the verge of separating for a few years. Now, after their most successful record to date - 2015’s Wolves - frontman, and key songwriter, BJ Barham has taken a step out on his own. Inspired, if that’s the right word, by the terrorist attack on Paris in November 2015 Barham has written eight of the most relatable tales of small town America you’ll find in 2016. Almost as a counterpoint to the the hugely personal Wolves, Rockingham is entirely non-autobiographical.
It’s a record about places as much as it is people. With the title track and ‘Reidsville’ telling the tale of small town America at its winningest, this is the focal point. ‘American Tobacco Company’ is a working man’s story, ‘Unfortunate Kind’ charts a relationship from parental contempt to its tear stained end, and ‘Water In The Well’ sheds a light on the hardship of real life. The words and motivation on show are crystal clear in their descriptive approach, none more so than on ‘Madeline’, the only autobiographical track here, with Barham imparting wisdom and pride to his daughter. She’ll listen in fifteen years and be proud of her pa.