Del Barber is a singer-songwriter from the prairies of Manitoba who has been nominated three times for a Juno Award. Like Colter Wall, he’s no stranger to singing about farming, ranching and other things common to life on the Canadian prairies.
For his new album Almanac, Barber and his road band went into the studio in Winnipeg, 400 miles from his home. Of the new album, he said, “There were no grand intentions, just an aim to get good friends and players together and record a pile of my songs. Going into this session I really wanted to enjoy the process, not think too hard, and just keep it simple and honest. I had a group of great songs and I really didn’t want to stand in their way.” He is right on in his assessment that he had a group of great songs.
You don’t need to go very deep into the album to realize that Barber has some similarity to John Prine in the way he presents the stories in these songs. One good example is in “Still Got You.” In this song, while picking on an acoustic guitar Barber celebrates things like tending his tomatoes and sorting socks. He ties the song together with the line “the whole world goes to shit, well, I still got you.”
“Even God Almighty” is a mellow song that brings the mandolin to the forefront and includes a healthy dose of pedal steel. Barber says a mouthful with the first two lines of the song when he sings, “Caught the news tonight. Lately it’s always the same. A couple idiots running for president and they’re passing out the blame.” It’s a profound statement that is easily relatable. As the story progresses, the narrator has another beer and watches the moon appear. The song is wrapped up with the reflection “Even God almighty loves a good memory.”
One of Barber’s strengths is the earnestness in his songs that make the listener feel something even with no frame of reference. In “One Good Year,” he sings about some of the troubles with farming, including margins “thinner than a supermodel” while the neighbors go to California every year for vacation. You don’t have to know a thing about farming to feel the difficulty experienced by the narrator.
Almanac by Del Barber is an album of 12 well-written songs that are sure to evoke some feeling. He writes about characters that you feel you know and he does it in a very charming matter-of-fact way. He may not have had any grand intentions for this album, but he and his band made an album that you are likely to come back to repeatedly. The album will be available on April 28. Order yours here.
Enjoy our interview here: Interview: Del Barber on “Almanac”
Del Barber – vocals, acoustic guitars
Ivan Burke – vocals, drums, percussion
Ryan Funk – bass, pedal steel
Austin Parachoniak – vocals, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, mandolin
Nadine Klowak – vocals
Kieran Placatka – keyboards, piano, Hammond organ
Brennan Cameron – Hammond organ
Grant Siemens – electric guitar, acoustic guitars
Produced by Del Barber, Grant Siemens and Scott Franchuk
Recorded at No Fun Club in Winnipeg by Scott Franchuk with assistance from Riley Hill.
Mixed By Scott Franchuk at Riverdale Recorders, Edmonton, Canada.
Mastered By Phillip Shaw Bova, Bova Labs, Ottawa, Canada.
Art and design by Kendel Kinahan.