NY Times Playlist: Roots Rock and the Funk of the Firmament

Playing the banjo puts roots in Danny Barnes’ roots-rock, and so does a fondness for country and blues structures in his songs, which cheerfully name-check Southern towns. But his album “Pizza Box” (ATO) doesn’t backdate itself. Mr. Barnes, 47, tells contemporary tales that are wryly observant. “With her hair in a bun, her hand on her gun/We made love with the radio on,” he sings in “TSA,” an Appalachian-flavored tune about romance with an airport guard, while the lovelorn “Broken Clock” worries about credit-card debt. Some songs hint at the Band, but Mr. Barnes also cranks up to feedback volume on the stomping “Road.” Behind his down-home magical realism is an underlying benevolence: In “Overdue,” he sings, “I’m learning to forgive you baby/Would you forgive me too?”

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