Jill Barber

REVIEW: Jill Barber “Homemaker”


Jill Barber has a new album out this week, Homemaker, produced by Jill Barber and Erik P. H. Nielsen and available on Outside Music.

Jill has been compared to Lori McKenna, and for good reason.  Her songwriting is that good, it takes a similar deep dive into everyday human life and the raw complexities within familial relationships. Plus, her vocals are haunting, memorable and immediate.

“Instant Cash For Gold” is a captivating song about living next door to a pawn shop, and all the people who trade their previous dreams for gold. And then the song turns autobiographical: “one of these days I’ll quit the road and trade these songs in for instant cash for gold.”

“Beautiful Life” brings us right into today, with “double tapping Instagram … seems like everybody’s living the dream.”  The uncontrolled experiment we are all swimming in, from the perspective of a mom of kids with Cheerios stuck to her feet, all done with subtlety. And then it’s the comfort of “Homemaker” from the perspective of a best friend, or maybe it’s the kind word you should be speaking to yourself.

“Joint Account” explores the concept of marriage and the way everything comes back around, in this a lovely vocal duet with Slow Leaves (Grant Davidson), accented by low violin and acoustic guitar melodies. In “Woman of My Own Dreams” Jill Barber explores the ennui that comes along with a dream life and being the “carpool Cinderella at the mall,” and trying to be the woman of her own dreams.

I’ll wager this one ends up on some year end best lists, and it’s only February.  She’s a three time Canadian JUNO award winner. Find more information here: https://www.jillbarber.com

Musicians on the album are Jill Barber on vocals, ebow and acoustic guitar;
Paul Rigbyon acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, loops, mandolin, and pedal steel;
Mary Ancheta on organ, piano and Wurlitzer;  Erik Nielsen on bass;  Geoff Hicks on drums and percussion;  The Good Lovelies (Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough, Sue Passmore), Slow Leaves (Grant Davidson) on vocals and guitar; Maia Davies, Marin Patenaude and Suzie Ungerleider on harmony vocals; Meredith Bates on violin, Peggy Lee on cello and string arrangement.

The album was engineered by Erik P. H. Nielsen at Afterlife Studios, Vancouver, BC with additional recording by Erik P. H. Nielsen at The Hoj Loj, Vancouver, BC.  The Good Lovelies were recorded by Chris Stringer at Union Sound, Toronto, ON.  It was mixed by John Raham at Afterlife Studios, Vancouver, BC except Instant Cash for Gold and My Mother’s Hand, which were mixed by Erik P.H. Nielsen at Monarch Studios, Vancouver, BC. Assistant engineers on the project were Olivia Quan and Brendan Guy.  It was
mastered by João Carvalho at João Carvalho Mastering, Toronto, ON. Album design and layout are courtesy of Jud Haynes.

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