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Byron Shire
July 4, 2022

Somerset sings for Your Redemption

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Somerset Barnard and Pat Tierney have teamed up to play a summer of music up and down the east coast. Somerset Barnard spoke with [ITALIC]The Echo[/ITALIC] about his musical journey.

Tell me a little about where your passion for music began.

My passion for music began as a kid in Santa Cruz, California. I remember driving with my father through the Santa Cruz mountains and hearing the Eagles, Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings on the radio. All that sort of country/blues was really popular there. My nextdoor neighbour had an old nylon string and every few weeks he’d teach me a new song that I’d heard on the radio. I think this was the roots of my passion and it’s grown from there.


Have you always embraced your country twang? Was there ever a time when you tried to make yourself something else?

I’ve always embraced that style of music. I guess it stems from those influences as a child. It’s just what comes naturally so I’ve stuck with it.


What is it about the outback, or living in a country setting, that you find most appealing? How does it feed your work

The outback I think is a really spiritual place. All those little country towns  and the people  that live in them are a songwriter’s dream. There are so many characters and so many life stories. In the outback the crux of life is easier to find. You can feel the pain, heartache and joy. I’ve always found the way of country life fascinating. There is nothing more inspirational than lying under the stars and letting your mind wander.


Where do you get your stories from? Do you listen in to passing conversations?!

The stories  come from a broad range of places. Larrikins I meet, places I’ve seen, conversations I’ve heard and articles I’ve read. A  lot of the lines in my songs come from lines that have come up in conversation over a beer.  The  way the stories on my album were constructed is interesting as they all evolved around a particular theme: ‘redemption’. Redemption, I think, is something we all strive for and aim to achieve in different ways. The release of the album was my ‘redemption’. I remember being in the newsagency at the airport a few years ago and  about to board a plane to run away from my troubles. I happened to pick up an issue of [ITALIC]Rolling Stone[/ITALIC] magazine and there was an article on Patti Smith in which she said, ‘The idea of redemption is always good news. Even if it means sacrifice or some difficult times’. This quote  has always stuck with me and through the songs on the album I’ve tried to paint a picture of the sacrifices and difficult times that have ultimately led to good ends. I think everyone has been there.



What do you think is the essence of good songwriting?   

I think the essence of good songwriting is to try to write to put the listener in the shoes of the person the story is about. The best songs to me are songs that you can imagine yourself in that scenario and feel the emotions that song portrays.


Tell me how you and Pat Tierney got playing together?

While on face value we seem to come from different worlds, the appreciation  of each other’s music  has been the common thread. We both signed to the same label in June  this year ( Race Cafe Records) and since then we have spent  a lot of time sharing each other’s music. Pat gave me a lot of his reggae and folk records and I gave him a lot of my old country and blues records. Although our music and backgrounds are different, we realised that a lot of the songs we wrote and listened to shared the same themes. We also both wanted to share our music to a broader audience and I think Pat is one of the few people I know that can put up with me! So why not tour!



Wednesday at the Rails in Byron Bay and Monday at the Beach Hotel.

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