Album Review: Casey Barnes - 'Light It Up'

25 February 2022 | 1:48 pm | Zanda Wilson

"Undoubtedly one of Casey Barnes’ most complete albums to date."

More Casey Barnes More Casey Barnes

Casey Barnes has quietly become one of Australia’s most successful country exports, treading a line between pure country sensibilities and catchy pop hooks. Based on his growing influence over the last few years, there’s nothing to suggest that his latest record Light It Up will do anything less than cement his place at the front of a class of contemporary Aussie country artists punching above their weight both locally and globally.

The album leads off with Get To Know Ya - a classic Casey tune that dropped at the end of January to give fans a taste of what was to come. It’s his way of easing listeners into the record, an easy-going love song about reconnecting with people in real life after years of social connection stifled by lockdowns.

The chilled opening to the record doesn’t last long, as Barnes launches into the hard-hitting Kiss Me Like You Mean It. This rhythmic, driving track is an instant toe-tapper and shows a more rock-heavy side to the record. It’s a sign of things to come, with Light It Up showing off all sides of Barnes’ influences, from softer, chilled vibes to punchy, dance numbers. The next track - Small Town - is a perfectly emotive example of the former of the two.

These laid back, vocally driven vibes can also be heard in tracks like Up In Flames which feels like an instant singalong, and God Took His Time On You, where Barnes shows off his harmonising skills and high-class skills as a lyricist.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

The record also features one of the hottest tracks of 2021 by any Aussie artist - Come Turn Me On - a tune that was the most played song on local country radio last year. It remains one of the best tracks on the record, and is a perfect example of Barnes’ songwriting skill, vocal ability (those harmonies - wow!) and the slick production that we’ve come to know him for.

It’s no surprise either that the whole album is incredibly polished when it comes to instrumentation and production. Yet we do see a lesser-heard side of Barnes on title track Light It Up, which is a more gritty and raw cut and a departure from the classic, easy-on-the-year melodic cadences that dominate most of the record. Starting off with a hard-hitting guitar riff, Barnes’ vocals hold their own in space and density as he plays with thicker and thinner textures over the course of this track that’s a really fun listen.

We finish with Gone Gone Gone, a perfect climax to the record that references a whole slew of country music staples. From a classic, rising riff, lighter verses, building to an absolutely rolliking chorus, gutteral cheers and speak-singing, and peaking with a guitar solo. It’s the perfect way to end Light It Up - undoubtedly one of Casey Barnes’ most complete albums to date.