James Barrett isn’t living a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ novel — he’s writing the chapters
James Barrett had a good 2016. That’s what he’ll tell you in conversation, but his music takes a different tone.
Earlier this year, the Clarks Summit resident traveled to Hammonton, N.J. to record at the new LumberYard Studios, co-owned by The Early November’s Ace Enders and Man Overboard’s Nik Bruzzese. It was one of the first things Barrett, then 18, did as a high school graduate, and he didn’t wear that new title so much as the title wore him down.
“The way I wrote most of those songs, the whole second half of the school year I’d leave my study hall to go to a music room and practice,” Barrett said. “I was kind of writing about what was going on. All around me I’d hear people talking about going to school and going away and I wasn’t doing that. That’s why it was weird for me at first.”
Barrett, with the help of guitarists David Sorokanich and Terry Hurst, recorded four songs in New Jersey that were released Sept. 1 as “The Metamorphosis EP.” If his March 2016 debut LP “One More” was the story of a young man moving through life, “The Metamorphosis EP” paints a static portrait of Barrett while the rest of the world moves on without him.
This new landscape of uncertainty isn’t without its high points though. Barrett said the release of “One More” turned his skeptics into believers — he isn’t exactly a hometown hero, but now more people believe in him than doubt him. The musician’s also spreading his reach, with James Barrett cassettes finding their to Las Vegas and bookings taking the teenager to Pittsburgh and Buffalo, N.Y.
“That’s what motivates me,” Barrett said. “Now I have people listening to my music in different states and that’s so cool to me. I wrote a couple songs that have branched out of Scranton and into different states and, to me, that’s nuts.”
The topography of Barrett’s post-secondary life will influence the peaks and valleys on his next collection of songs. He plans to stay close to home for a lengthy recording process at The Stude, a Scranton recording space Barrett became familiar with during the sessions for “One More.”
“I think I’m going to record again in January,” Barrett said. “I’m not going to release anything again for awhile though, but I’m going to just start recording in January and try to do, like, 12 songs and get them out at some point late next year. I want to try doing a full band with drums and stuff too. That’s why I want to start early.”
Now Barrett knows how things are — sometimes he’s going to feel defeated and sometimes he isn’t. He may not be on his way to a bachelor’s degree, but he’s getting closer to earning his certification in perspective.
“What I’m doing is going to take time,” Barrett said. “That’s what I need to realize. Pretty much, the moral is I’ll have bad days, but it will never change the fact that this is what I want in my life.”
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts