Jill Barber

Outside Music, 2018

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


An established Canadian star with two Juno Award nominations so far and who has already spent time at #1 on the Canadian Jazz Charts, most of us in the States have heard Jill Barber's work on the hit show Orange Is The New Black. Though she has released music in French and has mostly explored jazz, folk, and country, the Vancouver songstress jumps headfirst into pop on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Metaphora.

However, it would be a disservice to lump this into the legions of insipid, monotonous, cookie-cutter pop that exists today. Truth is, Barber has a lot more depth to her to art.

The darker songs on the album, “The Woman” and “Cage Without A Key,” are both mysterious, ominous offerings. The former is punctuated with background vocals, and the latter has an almost cinematic quality with strong texturing.

The hinting at other genres comes with the faint jazz influence of the dance floor friendly “Girls Gotta Do” and the traces of warm Americana on “I Hooked Your Heart.” Meanwhile, piano balladry is illuminated on the warm, emotive “Mercy,” where orchestral strings also make an appearance.

Mostly, though, the album is chocked full of driving beats, synth-pop, sing-a-longs, and choruses big enough to fill arenas. Songs like the anthemic “Bigger Than You,” the playful, breezy “Clumsy Heart,” and the electro-pop of “Love Is” could rival any household name on the FM dial today.

Lyrically, Barber examines the current political and social climate with songs about bullying, male privilege, and female empowerment, and she addresses these subjects from an intelligent, articulate angle. Musically, she's just as sophisticated, avoiding all the cliché trappings of much of today's artists.

While longtime fans of Barber might need an adjustment period here (this is her seventh album), new fans looking for something that's universally enjoyable but also daring and inventive will likely be hooked immediately.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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