It’s been a big few years for Jimmy Barnes, with best-selling books, spoken word tours and a documentary. “My life is like a stolen car,” he sings – “Out of control.” What more is left to tell?
But this album – his 17th solo studio collection and his first rock record in nine years – shows that what Barnesy does best is sing. His vocal is a booming beast, an instrument that remains, amazingly, in great shape, still able to switch effortlessly from screaming to soulful.
This is Barnesy’s story (the album’s opening line is “Well, I came from a broken home”), but some buddies help him tell the tale. Don Walker co-wrote six of the 13 tracks, brother-in-law Diesel delivered If Time Is On My Side, while Troy Cassar-Daley contributed the classic Shutting Down Our Town, a song about Barnesy’s hometown of Elizabeth. Barnesy got out, but he never really left it behind.
And two covers – of John Lennon’s Working Class Hero and Bruce Springsteen’s Tougher Than The Rest – fit the storyline perfectly. As a listener, you almost feel guilty being privy to Barnesy’s pain. But he rails and he rages, and the result is one of the best records of his remarkable career.
My Criminal Record is out May 31 via Bloodlines.
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