Raj Noogmosh, contributor
Has any artist ever reached greater heights of success and fallen so far as Barney the Dinosaur? Throughout the ‘90s – accompanied by his “Friends” Baby Bop, Riff and B.J. – he released a string of platinum-selling albums and toured the same stadiums as U2 and the Rolling Stones, all while holding down a popular PBS show until 2009.
For his few remaining fans, 2009 marked a turning point in Barney’s career and life; his show was cancelled and his album of that year, “Barney Rocks,” didn’t connect with long-time fans who had grown up and moved on to the Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga . An ugly divorce from Baby Bop, an on-stage meltdown at Austin’s SXSW Festival and the overdose death of dependable sideman Riff left Barney friendless and directionless.
On this new collection, produced by T Bone Burnett, Barney revisits the songs that made him a star. With spare production and intimate vocals that evoke a lover’s whisper, his Purpleness reminds us why he was so loved in the first place, and in doing so he reminds himself. Norah Jones, a long-time fan, joins Barney on “I Love You,” as the two take the lyrics “I love you/You Love Me/ We’re a happy family” and turn them into a plea for reconciliation. With softly-sung lyrics enveloped like a warm hug by acoustic guitar from Jack Johnson, “A Friend Like You” creates the same simultaneous feelings of intimacy and loneliness evoked by Nick Drake on his 1972 record “Pink Moon.”
This new album finds Barney without his old friends, but surrounded by new ones. And for the young ones, this music will be good company in those lonely nap-time hours.
Rating: 10 out of 12 cans of PBR!!!