Monday, July 11, 2011

Music Review: Matthew Barber

Now with a few years and albums under his belt, Barber strips it back it basics with this home-recorded, wholly self-written and performed, and basically self-contained collection.  That's not to say it's raw or acoustic or low-fi.  With lots of keyboards, drums, and a good deal of soul in the tracks, it's probably not all that different than what might come up in an expensive studio with lots of sidefolk involved.  In today's musical economy, why bother, if home works out just fine?

In its simplicity, the album presents Barber as more of a singer-songwriter than ever before.  That's part of the function of less instruments, and perhaps a desire to have the vocals more upfront.  There are some tracks that come bare-bones, such as Let Me Go Home, with just Barber and his acoustic, getting mellow about his family and his girl.  Others see him taking on the troubadour role, uptempo young acoustic folkie, such as his mid-60's Dylan-by-numbers cut Dust On My Collar.  There's nothing wrong with that, it's a vibrant blues form that ain't nearly as overplayed as electric guitar Chicago blues.  My favourites though are his piano or organ numbers, a couple of jaunty numbers, a couple of mournful ones as well.  All together, a strong mix that doesn't tire, and zips by under 40 minutes.

Two decades ago, Barber would be signed to a major label, and handed tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars to record, in the hopes he'd be the lucky one-in-twenty to sell well.  But if he didn't, big whoop, Springsteen or Prince would make that money back in a week.  With today's realities, it's the song that matters, and the ability to tour and connect in small ways, unless you have the word GaGa in your name.  Albums such as Barber's new one make me feel a lot better about the state of the biz.

No comments:

Post a Comment