Danny Barnes may be best known as a banjo player, but that’s too limiting a description. A skilled multi-instrumentalist with eclectic taste and a storyteller’s gift, Barnes writes songs filled with memorable characters, wry comments, and world-weary wisdom. He's performed with musicians as diverse as Bela Fleck, Gov’t Mule, Bill Frisell, and The Butthole Surfers, which gives some idea of his range, but his true calling is as a songwriter, and Rocket features some of the best songs he’s written. Joined by drummer Matt Chamberlain (Pearl Jam, T-Bone Burnett) and Zac Rae on bass and keyboards, Rocket is a catchy, well-crafted collection. Hard-charging rockers like “Soulcrusher,” “s.o.t.,” and a ripping version of T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” stand out immediately with their wiry riffs and raw power. The charming “Fun” and the laidback groove of “Angel” will grow on you, and the funky and textured “Rich Boy Blues” and the title track intertwine bluegrass licks and tough guitar. The final two tracks, “One” and “Safe with Me,” are smart and soulful, perhaps the best examples of his genre-bending prowess.

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