ALBUM REVIEW: Gregor Barnett – Don’t Go Throwing Roses In My Grave

They say (well, Turisas did, which is probably as unlikely a band to reference in the introduction to a review of a solo album by the vocalist from The Menzingers as you’re going to get) no good story ever starts with drinking tea. But, maybe, just maybe this one does. For the journey of Don’t Go Throwing Roses In My Grave (Epitaph Records), the first solo album from Gregor Barnett begins with the premature closing of one adventure and the unplanned void of returning home to… no plans. Just peace, quiet, solitude, and, well, whatever hot drink of choice our man from Pennsylvania chooses to imbibe the morning. 

This may not be an uncommon story to tell this album release year, a creative force and busy mind doing things differently – and I’m sure we’ve all had enough of “New Ways of Working” / the “new-normal” seminars and workshops in our own workplaces to know that it is only the organic changes that have the greatest, most lasting and most meaningful impact. Barnett won’t be the first song-writer to use lockdown and the pandemic to frame a reset. But he may be one of the most adept. 


Writing for himself; writing to make sense of a new existence and the absence of a Menzingers “Touring / Album Action Plan” and cycle, Barnett wrote to keep his mind busy, quickly finding, as many of us do when our twenties (and the rest…!) are over, that it is the music of our childhood that has an increasing and returning interest and influence. These new songs didn’t fit the punk rock of the day job, but reflected the New Orleans, blues and darker country soundtrack his father had lived by, and Barnett had grown with. 


Littered with deep (South) Gothic touches and a darker, more Wild Western Twin Peaks tinged Americana than the Springsteen-isms that proliferate the Menzingers, Don’t Go Throwing Roses In My Grave often presents like Nick Cave’s ‘Red Right Hand’ with Chris Isaak toning down the menace and turning up the wistfulness. ‘Oh Lord, What Do You Know’ flirts with post-punk and Morrissey intonations,‘Hurry Me Down To Hades’ is a dutty blues western with some sly slide guitar on it, ‘Anthem For The One I Love’ is a jangly country tune, while the title track throws in some harmonica as part of its rustic charm. The Killers recent excellent Pressure Machine (Island Records) is a not-too-distant cousin to ‘Driving Through The Night’ and ‘Guest In Your House’. 


If there is a common thread to the music, and this absolutely is a cohesive work in its own right, there is a common lyrical theme too. Natural concerns for friends and family during the worst of the pandemic, alongside the loss of a grandparent filtered into the tales and tracks being created, though not without a positive undertone. Don’t Go Throwing Roses In My Grave is all about connections; about connecting with what and who matters to us, and by connecting to his Southern Gothic and darker americana roots, one of alternative music’s great current storytellers has just connected further to us all, too. 

Buy the album here:


8 / 10