Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo - Dear River - Rock 'n' Reel (R2)

01 July 2013
Rock 'n' Reel -R2
Peter Tomkins
4 Stars


Musical division have begun to fracture. Where once there were clear distinctions between genres there is now a musical continuum. Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo's new album amply demonstrates how things have changed. Is it folk or jazz? Is it Americana or rock? The joy, of course, is that this album is simply great songs performed by a breathtaking singer supported by talented musicians. Emily Barker originates from Bridgetown, south of Perth, and many of these songs seem rooted in the Western Australian outback. ‘Ghost Narrative', which urges us to ‘walk this land together/'til the truth is our', is descended from the Triffids' Born Sandy Devotional. More than just an album Dear River is a song cycle about yearning for home and escaping the city for the simplicity of the country. Barker's voice has a fragile strength. On ‘Letters' her lead vocals, and the Red Clay Halo's beautiful harmonies, break your hearts as they remember how ‘We hold on to your words/We listen for years'. However, ‘Every When' uplifts and inspires. This duality reaches its apotheosis on ‘Sleeping Horses' as crystal-clear and gentle vocals build to a force that holds you and whispers truth.


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