It takes less than a minute into Chris Barron’s latest album before you recognize where you’ve heard that voice before. Twenty-five years ago, The Spin Doctors were inescapable. You couldn’t turn on the radio, the TV or even go to the movies without hearing “Two Princes,” “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” or “Jimmy Olson’s Blues.” The jam band-lite songs connected with fans instantly and just as easily elicited vitriol from critics. But, The Spin Doctors, like their contemporaries in Blues Traveler, seemed to leave as quickly as they came, though both groups have regrouped and continued to tour off and on over the years. Now going it alone, Barron has both the blessing and the curse of being part of a once-famous band (like Colin Hay and many before them).
Wiping away all preconceived notions and prejudice, Angels & One-Armed Jugglers, Barron’s latest solo effort is a solid album, with a mix of good songs, some weak moments and some simply stellar ones. His slower tracks – like “Gonna (Need Someone)” and “In A Cold Kinda Way” – are among the least memorable ones here, but when he’s willing to get a little more raucous, like on the fantastic opening track (the one that shares a title with the record), Barron’s brilliance comes out.
Considering the power of nostalgia, Barron could easily live of annual summer package tours aimed at aging Gen Xers, yet Angels And One-Armed Jugglers shows he still has a lot more left to say.