When he walks on stage there isn’t a grand entrance. He just walks in, takes his place, strums his instrument in preparation, closes his eyes and plays. Throughout his performance, you can tell he’s a bit of a detail-oriented perfectionist. He opens his mouth to sing, or strums his fingers along and it’s almost as if he has no idea that what comes out is as good as it is. He’s talented, but he’s modest. He comes off simple, yet he’s layered. His name is Barney Cortez. And whether it’s in how he carries himself, his music or what he visually creates, there’s one thing you can’t deny about him: he has style.
Barney is a Philadelphia-based musician that’s been on tour with Rayland Baxter, which is who I first saw him perform with. He’s a silently strong musician. He knows how to play his part in a band and perfectly showcases others. He collaborates. He adds value. And for some musicians, that’s where they are best left. But, Barney is one of those musicians who doesn’t just survive on his own musically, he thrives. You can see that abundantly in his Pretty Thin EP he released this year.
Pretty Thin is easy, fun, authentic and it’s downright cool. I imagine as an artist and a musician, Barney thinks of everything — every nuance. This project showcases how creative he is and what a versatile visionary he can be. He can make others’ visions come true with precision, but he is strong enough to be the master of his own. This is seen in the visual direction for the EP and the music videos — and it’s all authentically him, not a version of something else which is something we see all too often sometimes in music.
The EP is a six-song journey of ups and downs that flow into the elements of indie rock that are the most endearing. But, what I love most is Barney doesn’t just hit this note and leave it at that. The EP has multiple moments of exploration and subtle nods to other genres. He ties together these stellar musical moments with solid lyrics that form a backbone to his EP.
Dream Within a Dream/ Better Leather
These two songs have an upbeat, indie-pop-rock element to them. They are fun, smooth and in Dream Within a Dream’s case — downright dancey.
This track shines a light on how sweet and soulful Barney’s voice can be. Structurally the song has layers in the rhythms, vocals, and arrangements that show the fusion between indie rock and soul. Overall, Patti Smith has soulful elements I adore.
Some Kind of Exit
This is the opening track to the EP. It has melodic and dreamy pieces. Again, it shines because of the layers Barney has added. This song is also incredibly visual lyrically — more than his others.
Recovery Mode closes out the EP and is filled with erratic punk-esque moments. This song strays the most from the others, but it’s proof of the many fusions Barney is able to pull off.
Throughout this EP, the thread that ties every track together making them make sense is Barney’s consistent musicianship. He has a truth to his sound and style that he experiments with but never strays too drastically from. Everything he does makes sense, proving he’s more than just an addition to a band. He’s a frontman and soloist with an undeniable spirit and vision. His EP, Pretty Thin is streaming now on Spotify. Do you agree with me? Leave your thoughts below!