CD REVIEW: Charlie Barnes – Last Night’s Glitter

Charlie Barnes, touring multi-instrumentalist with the hugely successful British act Bastille, follows up his 2018 album ‘Oceanography’, with the 10-track collection ‘Last Night’s Glitter’. So what has he got to say for himself?

“I should probably admit to being something of a slow worker. This album, which was supposed to be a couple of throwaway bonus tracks, or a swiftly turned around EP, or a handful of live session videos to help point people, and their wallets, in the direction of its predecessor, has taken me far longer to make than it should have done. So long, in fact, that I no longer see it as a standard issue piece of promotional material, but a body of work that I hope will come to hold its own amongst my repertoire. ……That summer, back once again to my day job as part of Bastille’s live band, with a set of simply-strummed guitar chords falling regularly under my fingers, I could feel something new turning around in my head. It felt like it would be one of those ‘everything’ songs. The kind of song where a writer manages to translate exactly where and who they are at a certain time into a handful of verses. In a hotel room somewhere in Spain one afternoon, the lyrics found their way out of me, and became ‘Last Night’s Glitter’. It sounds like I’ve romanticised it, but that’s genuinely what happened. Jump forward to the spring of 2019, and my wife and I had just finished having the garage of our first home together converted into a recording studio of sorts. This, along with the purchase of my first ever decent acoustic guitar, and a newfound love of finger-picking from helping to develop stripped-back versions of Bastille songs, reminded me of those old plans to record some acoustic arrangements of my own work. I spent many scattered days between Bastille tours over the next several months finessing and recording the new versions. I made rules for myself. No double-tracking. No wild guitar effects. No walls of sound. No clutter.”

And that’s what you get. The uplifting almost Anderson-esque “Sing to God”, heartfelt and intimate “All I have” or “Former Glories/Bruising”, sparse yet poetic “The Weather”, Thom Yorke-ish “Macbeth….” or “Dresden”, lilting “Ruins”, Nick Harper-esque “Will & Testament” or gorgeous “Last Night’s Glitter”. Charlie Barnes is a talented songwriter, inspired arranger and excellent vocalist. Oh and an all-round gifted musician.

There are some clever collaborations and instrument choices. Charlie Barnes again: “I bought a lap-steel. I asked a few of my Bastille touring colleagues for contributions; mournful horns from arranger extraordinaire Jonny Abraham, clusters of woodwinds by the amazing Rittipo, and an angelic string arrangement for the newly-penned title track, performed by my friend from stage-right Ciara Ismail. I didn’t give them much in the way of direction, just sent them the songs and asked that they add whatever colour they saw fit. I re-used some of the audio material from my previous albums; my favourite parts that got buried under all of the other layers I insisted on adding. Steve Durose’s beautiful choral arrangement from ‘Sing to God’, the Mellotron chords from the last chorus of ‘Ruins’, and the original string recordings from the ‘More Stately Mansions’ album, finally giving mine and Jon’s arrangements some room to breathe. You can hear the birds in my back garden. You can hear the summer rain bouncing off the skylight in my studio’s ceiling. If you listen really closely, you might hear my dog Luna shuffling around in her bed in the background of the quieter moments. This album sounds like home. This album is me, at home. Enjoy.”

I did. This bloke could give up his day job as far as I am concerned and give Sheeran, Capaldi et al a run for their money.

Charlie Barnes – Last Night’s Glitter

  1. Sing to God (Intro) (2020 Version) 1:22
  2. All I Have (2020 Version) 4:25
  3. The Weather (2020 Version) 4:32
  4. MacbethMacbethMacbeth (2020 Version) 4:10
  5. Ruins (2020 Version) 4:37
  6. Dresden (2020 Version) 4:51
  7. WHTHR (Interlude) (2020 Version) 0:47
  8. Will & Testament (2020 Version) 4:09
  9. Former Glories/Bruising (Reprise) (2020 Version) 4:25
  10. Last Night’s Glitter 6:30


Charlie Barnes – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Piano, Lap Steel,
Ciara Ismail – Violin
Rittipo – Baritone Sax, Tenor Sax, Soprano Sax, Alto
Sax, Flute, Bass Clarinet
Johnny Abraham – Flugel Horn, Trumpet


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