ave Barnes was not a name I knew much of. I’d heard his breakthrough single “God Gave Me You” a couple of times, yet I could never connect a name to the song. So now- I’m making up for lost time. It would be a shame to let such a charming artist to remain under my radar. If (like me) you’ve never heard of Dave Barnes, Stories to Tell  is his fifth studio album. This is no amateur project. In fact, his fourth album What We Want, What We Get rose to a Top 5 Christian album position within two months of its release. But can that success be repeated?

Musically, Stories To Tell is a delightful mix of wholesome pop and soulful vocals. Easy on the ears, each track aims to tell a story using pop music complimented with hints of blues, folk and rock. The overall effect is pleasing; nothing offends, the album flows effortlessly from track to track. Even technically, the album comes out strong – Barnes has paid good attention to detail, enhancing what could be a bland safe musical approach with scatterings of syncopation, variations in tone and changes in mood.

The album opens with an upbeat “White Flag”. It is smart song-writing; a catchy song about asking for forgiveness with an infectious chorus. Despite its message, it has a cheery appeal. Dave Barnes definitely has a skill for addressing relevant issues in user-friendly packages. “Find Your Way Home” is a song of encouragement, offering reassurance to the lost. My favourite track “Warm Heart in a Cold World” is universally charming. The grown-up, perfectly-pitched love song is definitely worth a repeat.

Stories to Tell is an all-rounder, appealing to anyone looking for easy listening. While it may not instantly command your attention, it has some great qualities. It’s accessible, enjoyable yet mature pop music.  It may not the immediately arresting punch of other albums but there are no real weak points throughout the project. The title track is a perfect example of what Dave Barnes is capable of: uncomplicated, straightforward pop music with a clear message.

If you’re looking for involved music with compound messages, you’re looking in the wrong place. Stories to Tell is not difficult to understand. It’s not a niche project. But neither should it be. That would have ruined all the fun of the storytelling.