Lyal Strickland soars on deeply personal new full-length album ‘Balanced on Barbed Wire’

Lyal Strickland‘Balanced on Barbed Wire’
Lyal Strickland (self-released)
4 stars out of 5

Lyal Strickland says latest album “Balanced on Barbed Wire,” while technically his sixth release since 2004, represents a new beginning.

Lyal Strickland CD“I made a few (records) before this one, but when I hear this record, I feel like it’s my first,” Strickland explains. “It’s the first time I’ve listened back to my own stuff and heard myself in the singing and in the songs.”

Strickland took inspiration for “Balanced on Barbed Wire” from the hard-working people of his Buffalo, Mo., hometown. He lived the hard-scrabble life himself after taking over his family’s struggling cattle farm.

“People always tell you to write what you know. I’d heard it over and over again in songwriting circles, panels, workshops and conferences, and I’d just sorta nod,” he says. “But when I got back on the farm, I remember, pretty early on, an old buddy of mine came by. He’d been digging wells all day and was caked in dirt. We cracked a couple (beers) and started talking about music. He said to me, ‘Man, you need to tell this story. Write about Buffalo.”

That proved to be just the advice he needed and the result is a terrific gathering of 13 indie folk tunes. From the opening notes of “Every Time It Starts to Rain” to the closing strains of “I Don’t Care,” Strickland is at the top of his game. In between are standouts “Misery and Mischief Prone,” “In Ten Years,” “Knocking Down Doors” and “Some People Change.” Goof stuff. (Jeffrey Sisk)

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