Voice and guitar man Barns Courtney is to release his debut EP, ‘Hands’, a four-track collection that will be released 27th May on Virgin EMI. Along with the announcement comes the first single and EP title track ‘Hands’, following its premier by Huw Stephens’ on BBC Radio 1.
Born in Ipswich, Barns spent most of his childhood living in Seattle before returning to his native UK aged 15. This change of scenery comes across as clearly in his eclectic mix of US blues-rock, hip-hop and grunge with British indie melodic sensibilities, as it does in his hybrid US-British twang.
Playing in various projects and bands growing up whilst developing his sound, Barns incarnation as a solo artist has been an unexpectedly fast paced one. At the end of 2015, his first track ‘Glitter & Gold’, with its rocking gospel-blues and Barns’ honey & sand delivery, soared to #1 on the UK Spotify Viral Chart, #2 on the iTunes Alternative Chart, was added to the BBC Introducing Playlist, clocked hundred of thousands of plays on YouTube, and was featured on the ITV Winter 2015 drama reel, all in the span of two months.
‘Goodbye John Smith’, a poignant piano ballad that channels ageless song-and-voice men such as Johnny Cash and Tom Waits, hit the radars of tastemakers online and further spread the word about Barns, earning him a spot as one of Channel 4’s Future Sounds artists at the end of the year.
Listen to ‘Hands’ BELOW
On the other side of the pond, another song named ‘Fire’, a raucous blues rocker, is currently burning up the US radio charts, and recently entered the top ten in the Triple A radio chart. Barns capitalized on the excitement with a performance at SXSW and a coast-to-coast US radio tour.
The Hands EP collates these different facets to a raucous and urgent whole. The fist pumping title track opens proceedings with infectious grunge blues with echoes ranging from The Dandy Warhols to The Killers. The aforementioned ‘Goodbye John Smith’ reveals a gentle, emotive side of Barns’ songwriting. Elsewhere, London synth pop trio Zibra remix Barns’ breakout ‘Glitter & Gold’ into a moodier albeit equally addictive new version, while EP closer ‘Somebody To Love’ sees Barns harkening to his musical roots, with a rousing cover of Jefferson Airplane.
Already having supported the Libertines, Ed Sheeran, and The Who, the young troubadour will be bringing his ecstatic one-man guitar assault to further UK and European live dates this spring and summer, including being confirmed for BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Exeter.
Hands EP track listing:
2. Goodbye John Smith
3. Glitter and Gold (Zibra Remix)
4. Somebody to Love