Ben Barnett has been slinging his acoustic guitar and writing heartfelt songs for quite some time already. Although others take plenty of amplification to get their point across, Barnett (like the Hush Records label that he's on) prides himself at creating songs that may sound somewhat simple, but they're simply beautiful. Originally released as a batch of 8 ballads, this recording has been out-of-print for awhile, but recently re-recorded and two songs added. According to the liner notes, he's now working on a more rock-styled project with other people, so this acoustic album might be one of the last quiet things heard from him for awhile.
Even if you're a hardcore collector of his work, the bookend tracks on the disc are new additions (and the newer recording is probably at least partially better), and the album starts out with the rather biting "Consumer Potential." Taking big label music biz sayings and applying them to broken relationships, it's witty and sad at the same time. When you've only got a voice and a guitar, there are only so many elements at work (lyrics, vocals and one instrument) and the lyrics are one of the things that make Kind Of Like Spitting stand above so many other artists.
"The Thing About Distance" is one of those tracks that has lyrics that aren't particularly poetic in the traditional sense, but convey things so nicely because they're so direct. It's written in a eloquent direct way that is probably best described as the way you imagine yourself talking when you've had one too many drinks (when everything is flowing nicely and punches aren't pulled). The one cover on the album is "What A Wonderful Puddle" by Braid, and it's given a nice new breath with a nice two-part vocal harmony. The album closes out with the other new track, "Canoe," and the quiet instrumental (with flute by Sandy Schockley in addition to the acoustic guitar) closes out the album nicely.
Basically, you know the score if you're heard the group before, but fans of the usual batch of singer/songwriters would also do well to check them out. While Barnett holds things in common with Elliot Smith, ther are also tracks on the disc that remind me a lot of Pedro The Lion or Simon Joyner without the epic length. Also, if you're interested in the artist and haven't heard anything else by him, this is a good place to start as the disc runs about 35 minutes and is cheap to order from the Hush label website.