As he’s refined his musical voice over the years, I get the distinct impression that R. Barry Knox now prefers to chill and do his own thing. He apparently has a nice recording studio with a lot of electronics, as well as his own label, Desert Morning Records). Similar to previous projects from this “creator of musical adventures” based in San Diego, Hanging Out features all original songs that are performed and produced by Knox. Some minimal vocalizing from Paula Pena is also heard, and her smooth statements are particularly pleasing in “The Kiss, Such a Kiss.” She has collaborated before with Knox as a songwriter and vocalist.
Subtitled “Adventures in Genre Fusion,” the artist’s vision for Hanging Out is to create and present such musical innovations as reggae-blues, swing-pop, blues-pop, blues-ska, and Euro-Rave songs. Recurring simple melodic riffs and solid grooves result in a fun listen. The electronic textures and driving techno beats add to the entertainment. How can you possibly not feel good when you hear the title cut, “Hanging Out”? No matter where the poor guy goes, he’s having a hard time finding a decent party: “I’m movin’ on to find another place, to have some fun with a friendly face,” Knox sings.
With plenty of loops and effects, Hanging Out opens with “Take A Chance,” which transports us to the islands and gets you listening to your inner voices and thinking about this and that while in the pursuit of love. Knox’s own life story of failed love, three times over, is told “In a Night of Love.” He’s known “the wild times, the good times, the bad times that happened, happened when I was in love/ I thought it was love. It was not love. It was not love!” Knox may not have the greatest voice around, but one has to appreciate the musician’s unique (and somewhat quirky) flair. A Euro-Rave fusion ballad like “There Comes Lucy” makes for an unusual song as we hear about a groupie’s quest for a rock star’s affection.
As with many of his songs, I’d like to hear a reggae-inspired tune like “It’s All Good” done with a full band of real instrumentation and a major reggae singer like Massive Dread, Burro Banton, or Eek-A-Mouse. Nonetheless, songwriter/producer R. Barry Knox presents his peculiar genre-bending creations with loops, sounds and effects that emphasize his success as an eccentric and tuneful musical voyager. It’s a trip, and I think you’ll enjoy riding along.