2019 finds Jimmy Barnes older, smarter, healthier, and for his forthcoming album ‘My Criminal Record’, he has distilled and expanded upon his two best-selling memoirs to create 13 pieces of burning, heartland rock & roll. It will resonate with anyone who has ever found themselves standing on the outside, looking in.
And you won’t find a better example of the newfound subtlety and strength in Jimmy’s voice on ‘My Criminal Record’ than on Shutting Down Our Town, which was written by Troy Cassar-Daley especially for Barnes, after Troy finished reading ‘Working Class Boy’.
Jimmy inhabits the song as fully as he inhabited the place he grew up in.
“Everything I knew was back there on those streets
Every lesson learned kept me on my feet
But I can’t help thinking of the ones I left behind”
“It’s about Elizabeth,” Jimmy says, referring to his childhood suburb, very much on the wrong side of the tracks in North Adelaide. “I changed a couple of words just because of local knowledge, but it was 99.999% Troy’s song, and he played it to me and I immediately felt the connection.”“I drove through Elizabeth not long after I heard the song, and I felt a pain in my heart for the people there who are battling, trying to make a living when everything is stacked up against them.
“It’s sort of a heartland ‘Working Class Man’ anthem, but ‘Working Class Man’ was written by an American [Jonathan Cain]. This was written by somebody who feels the pain, and who’s writing about the darker side of Australia which I never wanted to face before. So it’s like the bookend to ‘Working Class Man’, but for me, it’s the real story.”
Jimmy is singing maybe better than he ever has. He explains that he is better in touch with the emotions in the songs, and better able to express them as a result. The raw power and volume is still there, but it’s modulated by a new self-knowledge and sensitivity.
“Now, I know why I’m singing it. I know why I’m feeling it. I know why I have to get it out now, and writing the books helped me identify it. I still sing about the same things, but now I know exactly what I’m singing about.”
‘My Criminal Record’ is Jimmy’s seventeenth solo studio album, and his first rock album since 2010’s ‘Rage And Ruin’. The album was written by Jimmy, with significant assistance from his oldest sparring partner, Cold Chisel’s Don Walker, whose name appears on six of the tracks. Outstanding contributions also come from close friends Troy Cassar-Daley, Mark Lizotte (aka Diesel), and The Living End’s Chris Cheney.