Go Barefoot is a Johannesburg based band who define themselves as ‘indie kwela folk rock.’ That’s basically four of the best ways to describe music, so you know it’s got to be good. Or to put it another way, the band have simply described themselves as “South African music that makes you dance.”
I got the chance to see Go Barefoot while I was visiting Joburg a few months ago, and it was honestly incredible. The audience lapped up every moment. dancing wildly, with some punters even taking their shoes off and throwing them on stage – in what was (hopefully) an ode to the band’s name. I had high hopes for their EP Routes, and they have absolutely exceeded them. I love every song on this album, and I’m sure you will too.
There’s too much to say about each track on this album, so I’m just going to leave it up to you to trust my judgement when I say that this is one of the best EPs I’ve heard in a long time. Of the six tracks, here’s my three favourites:
Opening track You Don’t Have to Go has a really urban African feel to it. I don’t quite know how to put that into words, but you’ll know what I mean when you hear it. This song goes for five minutes and thirty six seconds and I wasn’t bored for a single second of it. Lead vocalist Michael Dawson has an incredible voice, the kind that can hit all sorts of notes. When I saw them live, my cousin turned to me and said, “Doesn’t his voice just make you want to fall in love?” He wasn’t far off. The band know it, and each instrument complements his vocals perfectly
Johannesburg is another wonderful tune. I can guarantee that if you are South African/have ever been to South Africa this song will make you want to dance and happy cry all at once. With the opening line, “I’m just a boy from Johannesburg,’ the lyrics are intimate and sombre, a deep contrast from the upbeat, folky music.The boisterous African instrumental sounds have also contrasted against Dawson’s pure, gentle voice, adding volume and depth to the atmosphere. The track makes me so proud to be from such a beautiful country (Australia is great too though, obvs.)
My favourite song in the EP would have to be Grazing. It starts off slow with a steady background beat, before building up to something really special. This song reminds me a lot of Devendra Banhart’s incredible album Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. And let’s face it; if you’re being compared to Devendra, you’ve done something right.. The rhythms and percussion really stand out throughout this track, they really hold each layer together, showcasing drummer Saul Nossel’s immense talent. If this song doesn’t make you want to dance then you must really really hate dancing.
Judging by the quality of this EP, there’s no doubt that Go Barefoot are going places. Hopefully we’ll see them for some ‘lank kif jols’ in Australia in the not too distant future.