Friday, June 20, 2014


Jill Barber loves a love song, she loves vintage music and she loves orchestrations.  This time out, it's as simple as that.  Along with her producer, Les Cooper, she wrote ten tracks, not from any specific style, but music that could have come from the 30's up to the 70's, from Tin Pan Alley to countrypolitan to Brill Building pop.

Opener Broken For Good is the most current number, with a big beat, pop-soul feel and 60's flourishes.  A nasty guitar is cleverly out of place, and the drums mixed up front, and those modern hints make this the closest to a contemporary single Barber has come.  Oughtta be a hit.  Next up is The Least That She Deserves, one of a few here with a slight country hint, the string-laden 50's and 60's Nashville numbers of various Brenda's and Patsy's, although these arrangements are bolder, more oomph and less syrup.  Let's Call In Love is another more modern one, the soul turned up higher, and a laid-back lilt that recalls the more playful Al Green songs.  Lucky In Love is the most old-fashioned tune, a jazz ballad with a cocktail easiness, as she sits in with the Nat King Cole Trio and a side of strings.

The real trick here, and what makes Barber great at what she does, is how she and Cooper evoke period music, but still manage to make it contemporary.  Much of that is due to the quality of the writing, performing and arranging, and the magic comes from Barber's vocal talents.  The secret ingredient, to my ears, is the production style, leaving in just those few modern touches that will attract fans that would never put on a record from before they were born.  Then there are us who remember the stuff when it was on the hit parade, and we can like it too.

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