For all of 2020’s general chaos and tumult, Mike Barnett suffered a brain aneurysm last summer on top of all of it. Thankfully, the prodigal fiddler has undergone two successful surgeries since and is regaining movement with the assistance of his wife, Annalise Ohse—a classical violinist of equal prowess.
Due to Barnett’s medical circumstances, the release of his duets album, +1, was offset by about half a year. Now, though, it’s slated for a 19 March debut via Compass, the same label that released his much-lauded 2017 LP, Portraits in Fiddles. It features such roots notables as Ricky Skaggs (with whom Barnett has played as part of Kentucky Thunder), bluegrass innovator Molly Tuttle, and Americana singer, songwriter, and composer, Sarah Jarosz.
Through her vocal lead, Jarosz offers a yearning, reflective warmth on Barnett’s “Hollow City”. A special behind-the-scenes clip showcases the two artists performing the song live and in-the-making-of. The track holds a special place in Barnett’s heart. He tells PopMatters, “This song means a lot to me. It encapsulates my process of letting go of New York City, where my closest friends and music community were.”
“After a few years living in Brooklyn, my girlfriend at the time who is now my wife, Annalise, got a job offer in Austin, Texas that she couldn’t refuse. I was faced with the impossible decision of whether to stay or go. I chose to leave New York City, without much of a plan. When I returned to the city for the first time on my own, I expected the experience to be somewhat euphoric, but quickly realized it just wasn’t the same, hence the title ‘Hollow City’. Sarah’s voice conveys these emotions beautifully. We recorded this in Brooklyn, NY the year after I moved away.”
Barnett’s +1 is now available for pre-order.