True Believer is the new release from Toronto-based singer-songwriter Matthew Barber. For this, his fourth full-length album and follow-up to the internationally acclaimed and Juno-nominated record Ghost Notes (2008, Outside Music), Barber enlisted producer and local hero Howie Beck (Hayden, Jason Collett) to man the helm. The result has been an artistic alchemy that takes Barber’s trademark melodies to new heights.
Stylistically, True Believer is markedly more crisp and confident. It’s also diverse, heavily steeped in the rock’n’roll singer-songwriter tradition of Young, Petty, Dylan and Springsteen; yet it features dashes of Hank Williams, the soul of Al Green, the spirit of Paul Simon and the timeless essence of The Band.
The opening track “I Think You’re Gonna Feel My Love” is a Wilbury-esque pop romp with hooks-a-plenty that sets the tone for what is to come; “Revolution of The Sun” is a meditation on the passage of time inspired by the rite of thanksgiving, musically reminiscent of a 70’s Lennon ballad; “While Away” is an ode to a lazy summer day and features a gorgeous vocal contribution from Matthew’s sister, the accomplished chanteuse Jill Barber; “Hawks On The Highway” proves that Barber hasn’t completely given up on fist-pumping rockers, this one lamenting but accepting the inevitable death of the road-trip in an age of shifting environmental consciousness. “Got That Lonesome Feeling On My Mind” (from the original play Haunted Hillbilly for which Barber composed the music) pays homage to the song-stylings of a bygone era; “Comeback Baby” tells the story of a man driven mad by the siren song of a flirtatious bird to whom he has a mysterious attraction; “Insanity or Death” alternates between introspection and an outward despair for a world that seems increasingly insane; “The Little Things” is a tender reflection on what really matters in life; and “Suddenly” is an ode to the dignity of a long life lived and the bittersweet memories of those who soldier on in the wake of loss.
The album was recorded largely in Howie Beck’s studio in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood, after laying down the bed tracks at Canterbury Sound with veteran engineer Jeremy Darby. Beck and Barber played almost everything with Beck handling the drums, some percussion and most of the bass, while Barber handled the vocals, guitar, piano and percussion. For the fancier parts, some of Toronto’s finest musicians were called in including Dean Drouillard on lead guitar, Jesse O’Brien on piano, Daniel Stone on percussion, Paul Mathew on upright bass and a crack horn section led by Bryden Baird.
True Believer marks Barber’s second release on Toronto-based Outside Music label.
released February 23, 2010
Produced and Mixed by Howie Beck
Recorded by Howie Beck at 4-Walls and Jeremy Darby at Canterbury
Mastered by Noah Mintz at The Lacquer Channel
All songs by M. Barber
All songs performed by Matthew Barber (vocals, guitar, piano, keys, bass, percussion) and Howie Beck (drums, bass, percussion)