Barlow grew up in a home that celebrated the works of Bach as readily as they did Earth, Wind, and Fire and Led Zeppelin. The artist was drawn to the drums and, with urging from his parents, also took up the guitar, eventually heading off to college and landing at New York University, further developing his skills while majoring in theory and composition. Those New York experiences also opened up the artist to tons of vibrant influences, eventually connecting him with The Spin Doctors’ drummer, Aaron Comess, who would go on to produce True Nature’s celebrated debut EP, Feels Like Centuries.Now, True Nature is back and on You Shouldn’t Have to Shout So Loud, Barlow and his new stable of musicians, guitarist Steve Dawson, drummer Devin Collins, and depending on the show, either Randy Runyon or Matt Basile on bass, deliver five songs teeming with universally spiritual lyrics and solid modern rock sounds that hint draw from the same well as U2, The Foo Fighters, and Pearl Jam.
The album opens up with the muscled rock of the title track, Barlow and company painting with a layered intensity of electric guitar and pounding drums. There all hits of all the aforementioned influences here but True Nature makes the sound all their own, leaning on Barlow’s versatile vocals for additional help.“Only Love” follows hard after, electric guitar and thumping percussion building into deeper layers, Dawson conjuring the Edge and Barlow bringing his best Bono to the party. It’s a driving, passionate track that works well while “One Soul” tones things down, a bit of acoustic guitar leading the quiet lyric ahead.
But it’s “My Freedom Lies Behind the Sun” that is the real star here. From its moody, bluesy intro, complete with tom-tom drums and a gritty tone to the fully realized outbreak of sound as it segues into the full song, it’s the brightest highlight here. Barlow’s vocals are insistent and nuanced, his wails reminiscent of Eddie Vedder at his best while drummer Collins hammers on the skins, setting the tone for Dawson’s vibrant guitar fills. It’s simply a great rock song and that’s the best compliment one could pay here.Not to be outdone, however, album closer “New Father” is no slouch. Beginning with a plodding drum line and a sparsely decorated soundscape, the track builds itself slowly, Barlow’s vocals gaining strength, hitting a smooth groove at the chorus line undergirded by bright guitar. And from there it’s on, Barlow chewing off lyrics with aplomb and letting his band show their stuff, moody elements floating here and there and closing the EP out on a strong and engaging note.
True Nature is a product of its influences, drawing inspiration from artists far and wide. But Lou Barlow and company work hard to take those influences and channel them into their own sound, crafting music that is truly theirs and on this latest EP, they do just that. An engaging fit for fans of those influences or for those simply looking for some great, insightful rock and roll, You Shouldn’t Have to Shout So Loud is a strong release from an exciting, up and coming band.