American Aquarium – Tough Folks

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Hey it’s me, Ana Lee, with my DJ pick of the week. I recently met BJ Barham from American Aquarium when he stopped by to perform live in the ONErpm studio. I really enjoyed getting to know him and hearing about his new record, new band members and his new outlook on life.

In the lush tobacco fields of North Carolina where BJ Barham was raised, people work hard. Families stay nearby, toiling and growing together. BJ loves those farms and his tiny Reidsville hometown, but he had to run off and start American Aquarium, a band now beloved by thousands.

BJ couldn’t stay. But he couldn’t really leave, either: he’s still singing about the lessons, stories, and lives that define rural America––and him.

“I moved to the big city to go to college and fell in love with music,” BJ says. “But half the songs on our record are about small towns––little pieces of my childhood. I’ve had moments where it turns out a piece of broken English my father repeated twice a week is the most accurate way to say something. So I put it in a song.”

American Aquarium’s seventh studio album Things Change available now via New west Records offers the band’s finest collection of folk-infused Southern rock-and-roll to date. Stacked with BJ’s signature storytelling––always deeply personal but also instantly relatable––the record questions and curses current events, shares one man’s intimate evolution, and leaves listeners with a priceless gift: hope.

Listen to the single “Tough Folks” below and let us know what you think!

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