Debuting with their self-titled album, The Barr Brothers have brought with them songs that not only mesh old sounds with new, but also include stimulating lyrics that, unlike some Top 40 hits, are deep and meaningful. A four-member group from Montreal, Quebec, the Barr Brothers only just released their first full album even though they have been together since 2006.
The opening track, “Beggar in the Morning,” gives a solid introduction to the album as well as to the band itself, capturing the essence of their style and of the tracks to come. With its distinct yet organic sounds, the track simply refreshes you for the first minute and then eases you into a wonderful melody.
The following two tracks, “Ooh, Belle” and “Old Mythologies,” are as soothing as the first, but successfully stand on their own even if they are not as memorable.
Just as the album begins to flirt with an all-too repetitive sound, “Give the Devil Back His Heart” intervenes. Although it is not one of my preferred tracks, it contains both a guitar and a drum solo that much current music lacks. This and “Lord, I Just Can’t Keep from Crying” are definitely songs that I have to hear live, as both feature drums and guitar playing off each other phenomenally.
“Cloud (for Lhasa)” is my favorite track. With its calming tune and soft, raw vocals, it could even pass as a lullaby. The drums also add a much-needed depth that really brings that song together. The following track, “The Devil’s Harp,” contrasts it with a darker and heavier beat.
“Deacon’s Son” and “Held My Head” showcase the Barr Brothers’s instrumental talents and unique sounds that set them apart from other bands. “Deacon’s Son” especially displays the number of instruments that the group is able to bring together to make such a harmony, and proves that The Barr Brothers can implement a multitude of tones without letting the song devolve into an overly complex mess.
The concluding track, “Let There Be Horses,” reminds the listener of the types of sounds that the band is best at: the mellow and relaxed. The track manages to conclude the album without it being awkward, which is difficult, even more so in the folk genre.
Overall, The Barr Brothers is pleasant, but like all albums, there were some songs that simply stood out more than the rest. The album is great to listen to during the fall season, and a strong start for the Barr Brothers, who are not only introducing new ways to incorporate sound, but also raising the musical bar.
- Emily C