Outsider A-Side: Barrett Davis Comes Out Swinging with His Debut Album ‘The Ballad of Aesop Fin’

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo credit: Izzy Nelson/ Sweet Grit Photography via IVPR)

Barrett Davis got a taste of the life of a touring musician over a decade ago. Unfortunately, his band dissolved and his life went in a different direction. To make ends meet, Davis shelved his dream of making music and started working construction in his home state of North Carolina. However, he never stopped thinking about his dreams. Finally, after years of barely making ends meet, he decided to jump back into making music with both feet. Currently, Davis runs his own construction company that allows him to support his wife and two children. Additionally, he’s using the money and freedom that comes with being his own boss to get back into the country music world.

Today, Barrett Davis released his debut album The Ballad of Aesop Fin. Ahead of the album’s release, Davis sat down with Outsider to discuss the album, the intricate balancing act that is his life, and what made him record this album.  

The Ballad of Aesop Fin Is Just the Beginning for Barrett Davis

My first tour, we did some shows like the Palisades Music Festival in Colorado and a couple of festivals like that. It was just the taste of a lifetime for me. I’ve always been trying to get back into it since my old band, The Foxfire, fizzled out. It was just a matter of time. Now, I’ve got three albums written and I really want to get them out. So, I started with this one because these songs are the most familiar to me.

It seems a little short for an album, but I’ve really just enjoyed taking my time with these songs. These are the first songs that I wrote. I’m not actually putting too much new material into it. I think that the new material is something that’s so much bigger. So, I’m really excited about what’s in the future.

Balancing Work, Family, and Music

There is no balance. It’s kind of sad sometimes. One thing I’ve done is hire my wife to make things a little more interesting. We’re spending more time together, we’re getting more done on the job site. She’s been way more helpful than your run-of-the-mill helper fresh out of high school. We’re always there together on time and she’s got way more energy than your average 18-year-old boy. That kind of helps when I get home and I have so many emails and communications to do and posters to make or booking stuff. It helps a whole lot because she’ll take over a lot for me. Then, I’ll try to squeeze the kids in right at the end of the day. I play a lot and read books and do homework with them. It’s like “If only there was more time to do all of this stuff.”

Barrett Davis’ Ah-Ha Moment

Well, I think everybody in America knows the feeling of hitting the grind and trying to make enough money to just pay your rent. I was stuck between that and realizing that I’ll never be able to play music like I want to with the kids and stuff and their needs. And, my wife does equestrian work. So, I look around and everything’s expensive. On top of that, I’m making like 15 bucks an hour. I think at that point my ah-ha moment was “Do you want to have a dream or do you want to just let reality beat you down?”

So, I started the construction company to help fund my dream. We’re currently living in a 350-square-foot apartment. The fridge is just as empty as it was before. We’re just investing in our futures.

Working with Woody Platt

When I was in The Foxfire 10 years ago, we used to get into some gigs and ask [Woody Platt] questions. He would hook us up with booking contacts or whatever here and there. Then, we did Mountain Song Fest and Steve Martin was there. I think Del McCoury was playing. We go to meet all of those folks and it was so inspirational. Woody was like “Hey, I really like that ‘Leavin’ Today’ song.” That stuck with me.

About eight years later, I see him again at the gas station. He pulls over in his Suburban and he says, “Dude, I need some work done on my house.” I didn’t even know that he knew I was in the business.

Woody got me on this on this neat little job doing trim. He wanted to match a new portion of his house to an older portion. So, I told him I was looking for some really good power vocals for the record and asked him if he’d do it. He agreed and that just made my day.

“Quiver” featuring Woody Platt

“The Ballad of Aesop Fin”

Aesop Fin is my picture of modern Appalachia. There are so many different mystic elements to this area. When you come from the city here, depending on what time of year it is and what the political climate is like – I’ve had people come to deliver appliances out here and be afraid to get out of the van. There are those harsh realities in this region. So, I’m like, “Okay, how rough around the edges are we and what can we do to show folks the reality of what happens here?”