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Emily Barker - Dear River - Songlines


01 October 2013
Songlines
Doug DeLoach

Wallander-soundtracking Americana from Aussie Brit

Dear River is Emily Barker’s fourth and arguably best album. It is a collection of 11 original songs spotlighting the 30-year-old singer-songwriter’s finely honed craftsmanship accompanied by an all-female band. The album blends elements of roots, rock, folk and chamber music into a richly distinctive tapestry of stories and (mostly acoustic) sound.

Barker, a UK-based Australian, is probably best known as the composer of ‘Nostalgia’, a song from her 2008 album Despite the Snow, which was the opening theme for Kenneth Branagh’s TV series Wallander. Many of Barker’s songs, such as the title-track and ‘Ghost Narrative’, evoke a longing for the mysterious and magical qualities associated with the land Down Under; others, such as the hauntingly soulful Appalachian-sounding ‘Tuesday’, express the lamentations of self-imposed exile.

The easy-rocking setting of ‘Everywhen’ belies its serious call to address the dissolution of Australia’s Aboriginal culture. Barker plays guitar, banjo and harmonica with The Red Clay Halo, a band that also includes Anna Jenkins (violin, viola), Gill Sandell (accordion, piano, flute) and Jo Silverston (cello, bass, banjo). The group derived its name from a song by Gillian Welch, whose influence is manifest in many ways, particularly in Barker’s fluid mezzo-soprano delivery and precise articulation.
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