Australian country rock musician Casey Barnes has released his sixth album, Light It Up. The ten song release arrives a little under two years after Barnes’ previous effort, Town of a Million Dreams. It’s been a period of canceled tours and postponed shows for Barnes, who, like the rest of us, has been locked away from family, friends (and fans).
On Light It Up, the Gold Coast-based Barnes comes good on the promise of pre-album single, ‘God Took His Time On You’, delivering a body of work that’ll further cement his place in the upper ranks of the Australian country music scene.
To celebrate the release, Barnes provides a track by track breakdown of Light It Up.
1. Get To Know Ya
It seems appropriate to be releasing this now in 2022 as we come out of COVID and we’re getting to know people again, getting back out there into reality. This song is all about meeting someone for the first time, that spark you have and wanting to know more about them.
We’ve all had our fair share of lockdowns and isolation over the last two years and we’re finally enjoying the luxury of being able to get out and about again and reconnect. That’s what this single is all about… that instant connection when you lay eyes on someone for the first time. The nervous feeling about getting to know them and hoping they feel the same way because in your eyes, they’re that one in a million. This single is one of my favourite songs on the album and I’m so excited to finally get it out there.
2. Kiss Me Like You Mean It
Originally, I wrote this with Kaci Brown and Sam Gray in Nashville and we started with the idea of taking a funk feel and adding a country-pop twist. I then took it to the MSquared boys [Michael Paynter and Michael Delorenzis] and they added a brass element to the choruses, which took it to another level. This is gonna be great live.
This was the first time the five of us collaborated on a track and it worked out perfectly. I’d come up with the original demo with Sam and Kaci over in the US, but when I took the song to the boys at Msquared they thought we could take it to a whole new level by adding in some other production elements. That brass line at the end of the chorus is an ear worm.
3. Small Town
This is one of my absolute faves on the record. I wrote it with the MSquared boys. We came up with the story, which a lot of people can relate to – a small-town romance that doesn’t work out. There’s nothing worse than a break-up in a small town. Everyone knows everyone and there’s no escaping, and you feel like everything is closing in on you.
You’re not meant to have favourites. It’s like picking your favourite child, but for me this song is one of the standouts on the record. I remember vividly the day the boys sent me the final mix for this track and I just couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
4. Come Turn Me On
This was the first single released from the album. It’s about a guy who’s travelled around the world, seen his fair share of girls, but nothing compares to coming home to the one he loves. It’s a fun, up-tempo track, and I loved shooting the music video.
When it came to releasing the first single, this track was a no brainer. I remember getting the final mix and showing Chuggi, Andrew, Frank Varrasso and the team at Chugg Music and they all instantly agreed. It ended up being the number one most played song at Country Radio for 2021 so we were fortunate enough to get that one right.
5. Light It Up
Coming up with an album title is always hard. I felt ‘Light It Up’ really suited the mood of this record and where we’ve taken our live show. It’d be a dream come true if this was featured at a big sporting event – the NRL or AFL, or if we get lucky in the States, the NFL or NASCAR. Lyrically, we came from the perspective that you’ve been knocked down but nothing’s going to stop you. You’ve basically met the reaper and you’ve given him the middle finger. I love it.
If there’s an anthem for 2022, I think this song should be it. We’ve all had our fair share of challenges, setbacks and dark times over the last two years but it’s time to bounce back and get back to enjoying the things we love.
6. Up In Flames
I teamed up again with Kaci Brown and Sam Gray and it’s one of our faves. We keep in touch all the time and they were always saying, “Don’t forget about ‘Up in Flames’” The song just flowed when we got together. A love song with a big chorus.
This track is a real dark horse on the album. Super radio friendly and also has a really positive message behind it. It’s about loyalty, staying by someone’s side, even in the darkest times
7. God Took His Time On You
I’ve never had a feeling about a song as much as this one. We knew immediately that it was something special. Initially, I was a little unsure how it would be perceived, that people might be confused about the meaning. But the response has been incredible. Whether you’re religious or not, it’s about how you feel about your partner – whoever created you, however it happened, they obviously took their time, because you are damn near perfect.
I remember clearly the day this song all came to life. Sam Gray (who I’ve co-written a lot with over in Nashville) had been out in his barn for several hours just noodling and trying to come up with the main chorus line for this song. Kaci (his partner and fellow co-writer) tells the story that Sam came speeding back on their ride on mower, guitar in hand and a big smile on his face screaming, “We have to call Casey – I’ve got the hook for the song.” As soon as they got me on a Zoom and played that chorus, I knew we were onto something special. And the rest of the song basically wrote itself from there.
8. Love Fool
To me, this has got a really similar vibe to ‘We’re Good Together,’ which is off the last record. It’s like part two of that song. It’s about being under someone’s spell, being completely taken by the person you’ve met. It’s a story about a couple in love, but with a twist: basically the girl has the guy completely under her spell and he’ll do whatever she says. He knows that she’s bad news but can’t help but be drawn in.
9. This Ain’t The Encore
We wrote this one right in the thick of COVID and lockdown, thinking about how we’re going to feel when we get out of this situation, when we can finally do all those things we love doing. Just basically going for it and having an absolute blast.
When I listen to this song, for some reason I straight away think partly of the storyline behind the movie A Star Is Born. A washed up rock star that meets a girl (or in this case a number of girls) and takes them on the road. From one town to the next, every day seems like a blur but they’re having the time of their lives.
10. Gone Gone Gone
If I can have favourites, this is one of my favourites on the record. I remember clearly, I was in an Uber when Michael Paynter sent me the mix. It doesn’t happen very often that you get a mix and don’t want to change a single thing, but I had my headphones on and I just couldn’t stop smiling. We now close our set every night with this song. It already became a crowd favourite even before the record came out.
The song is all about being completely knocked off your feet by a girl. You know she’s bad news but there’s just something about her that draws you in … and you’re “gone gone gone.”